LittleBits has found a way for homeowners to keep their old appliances and make them work smarter. The startup company makes modular hardware components that are pieced together similar to Legos with the use of magnets.
The result is a new Smart Home Kit that features 14 magnetically connecting modules or "Bits." The modules can be made into various combinations in just a few minutes and can instantly create smart appliances in a do-it-yourself fashion.
The idea allows people to build their own version of the Internet of Things. By just using six new pieces, a homeowner can hack together copied versions of common smart-home concepts. These include presence-aware lamps and connected coffee pots. They can, of course, use their own imagination and be able to create their own smart home solution.
LittleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir wanted to give people an option to the prepackaged offerings from companies such as Cisco and Belkin, which seemed to "parachute" the smart setup into homes.
"Right now, the big leaders in hardware are the big companies," said Krystal Persaud, littleBits product design lead. "You should have a say, and you should have the power to invent the devices that you put in your home."
The kit, which will start shipping in December, also includes five brand new modules. These are an IR transmitter, Temperature Sensor, Threshold, Number and an MP3 player.
"Current smart home companies are encouraging us to throw out all of our 'dumb' home products and appliances (lamps, coffee machines, speakers, etc)," said littleBits. "We think that's expensive, unrealistic, and unnecessary. It's a lot of buying, replacing, and spending and it adds up! We shouldn't have to throw away an appliance just to connect it to the Internet."
The company is also providing a host of suggested projects that homeowners can make with their Smart Home Kit. These include plans on transforming common home products into Internet-of-Things devices. Some of these plans are Good Morning Sunshine, Toilet Paper Inventory, Smart Fridge and Coffee Control.
LittleBits, which started in 2011, had successfully sold millions of its products in 70 countries. The company has managed to raise $15.6 million in venture capital.
The main piece of the kit is littleBits' new Wi-Fi bit, which works by hooking one's creation to the cloud. People can check out the company's website where they can take a look at the featured 60 components from the catalog and purchase other modules.
The Smart Home Kit is priced at $249 and is now available for pre-orders.