Democratizing Hardware: Create Module-based Smart Home without Programming


Smart Homes and the Internet of Things are rapidly growing fields in the world of technology applications. However, it has until now been very hard to create your own customized solution or pursuing personal invention without some knowledge of programming.

Now, you can design your own smart home without coding skills. A solution called LittleBits Smart Home Kit has hit the market, and it is enabling anyone to make their entire home smart by using their existing appliances and without any real programming ability (of course you can program the devices if you wish, though).

Customization by modularization is an increasing trend within several applications of technology. To watch a widely recognized example, take a closer look at PhoneBloks for instance. This project makes you able to change or select certain components of your phone instead of continuously buying new ones, indeed an ingenious concept.

Similarly, New York startup LittleBits might make you able to save money by making your own old household appliances smart without having to wait for, or invest in, new ones carrying true Internet of Things abilities. Inventions like this one are evidentially welcome in a world where we are urged to consume more and more, leading to severe stress for our planet.

Springwise reports that the new smart home kit features 14 modules and 11 accessories that can add smart features to existing devices, including sound triggers, light sensors, temperature sensors and IR transmitters. It also includes an LCD-display, an MP3-player and an AC switch to switch on and off old appliances, for instance. All the pieces are compatible with one another, which means that you will have an almost endless number of combinations to come up with.

LittleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir tells Wired that the main idea of the startup is to give people an alternative to the prepackaged solutions continuously becoming available in homes, provided by major companies such as Belkin and Cisco. Users can hack together their own versions of connected coffeepots and presence-aware lamps – or just create something entirely novel (visit the company’s Youtube channel for tons of illustrative examples).

Modular systems like this carry with them such an enormous number of possible combinations that there is no way a market would exist for individual products. This is what brings the freedom to the users and only the own imagination sets the limits. Create a device which triggers a text message to be sent to your phone if the dog barks more than a certain number of times, automate your fish-feeding, play a song when the pizza delivery guy rings the doorbell or create an alarm for your refrigerator if the a sensors senses a drop in temperature.

One might certainly ask if these features should really be brought about in the form of individual products. The answer is probably no, and that the modular approach is way better. Moreover, the LittleBit solution is not only useful for creating personalized quirky products, but can also act as a tool for quickly making company ideas and concepts take real and functional form.

The large tech website CNET mentions that LittleBits will be joining many other much larger companies that are working on defining what the home of the future will look like. These companies include Google and Samsung, but also agile competitors such as the co-operational venture between Genreal Electrics and Quirky. Actually, the North American market for smart home systems will be worth $9.4 billion in 2018, according to CNET. However, the attempts by the big tigers very much lack the flexibility of LittleBits customable solution – which is what makes the offering it so interesting.

According to Gizmodo, LittleBits recently announced an expanded partnership with RadioShack and the kit is now sold in over 2,000 stores in the U.S. The kit is available for the affordable price of $249. The number of impressive creations will evidentially increase in numbers as the user base expands and the community around the solution gets larger. This is truly democratized hardware at its finest and we could expect similar concepts to get traction in a variety of fields within the next few years.



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