From thermostats to ingestible pills to pet fitness trackers--is there anything the Internet of Things can't touch?
That's exactly the question littleBits Electronics Founder Ayah Bdeir wants you to ask. LittleBits released a new module today called the cloudBit, which allows people to connect virtually any of the hardware projects created with the company's kits to the Internet.
"You can recreate some of the most popular devices like Nest and Sonos and Jawbone, but you can also invent new ones that nobody ever thought of--or nobody will make for you," says Bdeir, who is a recent Inc. 35 Under 35 honoree.
LittleBits sells a variety of kits and individual electrical components in addition to other modules like dimmers, switches, and motion sensors. Educators, including those from approximately 2,000 schools, make up a large part of littleBits' user base. But within the past year, Bdeir says the company has seen countless professional designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs create prototypes with the adaptable product.
The new cloudBit release means people can rig their hardware projects to interact with applications or even to other littleBits projects.
For example, users can make their own SMS doorbell, which involves building a circuit with a button. When that button is pressed, the cloudBit sends a text message to the user's phone, telling them that someone is at the door.
Another project is the long-distance lamp, inspired by the Kickstarter project called The Good Night Lamp. Users can build an Internet-connected light circuit that, when turned on in one location, turns a connected littleBits lamp on in another location--even if it's across the globe.
But Bdeir's main hope for her customers is that they dream up things that have never been done before. LittleBits has designed an app that accompanies its suggested projects. But littleBits also has an API so that developers can build their own apps that connect to their personal prototypes.
Bdeir says that the cloudBit and API have been open to hundreds of beta testers for several months. One company called Ringly even used littleBits to build the prototype for its product, an Internet-connected ring that lets users know when they have an important call or email. The company has raised $1 million to pursue that particular idea.
Niether littleBits' new capability nor Ringly's product was what Bdeir had in mind when she first started the company, but that's exactly the point.
"The Internet was something that just lived on computers, and I had not thought of that exact piece," Bdeir says. "But I had always thought about building a hardware engine and platform for people who are engineers--or not--to be inventive on."