This Startup Is Democratizing Innovation in Its Inventor-Friendly Digs

Kids are naturally curious, but that curiosity is often tempered by gender stereotyping—boys can build stuff, girls can't. But, thankfully, all that is changing, and with help from littleBits, a New York-based electronics kit startup, kids—regardless of gender—are gaining more access than ever to the tools that help them create inventions. LittleBits' mission to democratize hardware is spearheaded by founder Ayah Bdeir, a 2011 MIT graduate, TED senior fellow and co-founder of the Open Hardware Summit. Since the firm wants to help kids embrace STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics—it must also have an office that does the same. "We wanted to create a space to mirror littleBits the product—modular, playful, open and design-focused," said littleBits marketing vp Alyson Shapero, "And to inspire the team to do amazing work to further the littleBits mission: Empower everyone—of any gender, age or technical background—to be an inventor."


Builder Library

The littleBits Pro Library is a collection built for schools, libraries, maker spaces and design agencies.


Tunnel Vision

"This is a section of the littleBits Tunnel,” said Shapero, “which contains the entire littleBits library arranged by function—blue is power, pink is input (dimmers, buttons, sensors), green is output (buzzers, fans, speakers, motors), orange are connectors (wire, cloud, programming)."


Mr. Robot

The littleBits Talking Puppet is a limited-edition kit created for the 2013 TED conference where Bdeir spoke as a senior fellow.


Music Maker

The Musical Twister wall lets users create music by touching different parts of their bodies to metal circles that trigger sound from an MP3 player.



Bdeir developed these early cardboard prototypes and sketches.


And Sketches

More early prototypes and sketches.

This story first appeared in the April 18 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.