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posted by mattie_p on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the play-into-our-hands dept.

skullz writes:

"Much ado has been made about SXSW and the resurgence of hardware hacking as apposed to software. Even NPR is getting in on the action, airing a story about littleBits SXSW demo, including some videos. LittleBits are small circuit modules which snap together using magnets, much like LEGOs would if they were held together by magnets. The company pays homage to an open source mentality and hosts example projects, such as this LEGO and littleBit soundmachine, on its website, even though it seems to be missing several (or all) of the actual assembly instructions."

From their website:

littleBits (spelled lower case L, upper case B, all one word) consists of tiny circuit-boards with specific functions engineered to snap together with magnets. No soldering, no wiring, no programming, just snap together for prototyping, learning and fun. Each bit has a specific function (light, sound, sensors, buttons, thresholds, pulse, motors, etc), and modules snap to make larger circuits. Just as LEGO (TM) allows you to create complex structures with very little engineering knowledge, littleBits are small, simple, intuitive, blocks that make creating with sophisticated electronics a matter of snapping small magnets together.

If you followed SXSW, please share your favorite discoveries or insights gleaned from the conference.

 
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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by VLM on Wednesday March 12 2014, @12:38PM

    by VLM (445) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @12:38PM (#15218)

    I've posted before on the topic of there is no resurgence only careful and intentional NIH.

    If you're very careful to avoid accidentally researching the past, then you too can be a hardware startup in the "new" field of hardware hacking.

    There is a microscopic truth in that "the hardware hacker market" STILL has not recovered from the shockwaves of the implosion of heathkit about two decades ago. Heath used to have about 75% of the pie before they blew up. Now the pie is about ten times bigger, but none of the hundred or so small companies are even a 10th the former size of Heath. By analogy its like the death of the Atari 2600, and now there's a million app store developers (or whatever) but none of them are individually as big as Atari was at its peak therefore the market is dead, or some such.

    Well, maybe Elecraft and Ramsey are finally more than 10th of a 1990s Heath. But the general truth stands.

    The NIH aspect is pretty insane. The world is full of accomplished metal and wood and electronic workers, but there's a whole "thing" around makerspaces full of daytime web developers spending weeknights trying to learn how to use a table saw, all by themselves, ab initio, having never seen nor touched nor operated one before, which is somewhat scary. I grew up with two generations of family members successfully explaining how not to put body parts between the B+ and ground of a 1500 watt amplifier, but going in self taught and ab initio, more or less by intent and desire to be "psuedopioneers" these guys are quite literally going to get themselves killed. "We're the first pioneers to ever do electronics outside a corporate or university laboratory", (pats java programmers head condescendingly) "yes, yes you go on thinking that if it makes you feel better, you too can get a participation trophy"

    Don't get me wrong, I have 1000x to 1000000x more respect for someone screwing around with electronics than I do for a couch potato watching Oprah reruns. And I'd rather see 1000 people F up trying to do something than one person sit around doing nothing. Yet, face it, by intentional avoidance of research, they're just screwing around, and the feeling toward "pretend you're pioneers in the great western desert of NIH" looks more cute than annoying, as long as they can avoid electrocution and fires which would force our overbearing central controlled government / economy to negatively impact my craft.

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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Bob the Super Hamste on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:01PM

    by Bob the Super Hamste (3514) on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:01PM (#15836) Homepage

    From what I remember from high school shop class the most likely outcome of someone who has naver worked with a table saw or other power tools is that they usually end up taking one to the seeds as the piece that they just cut off gets kicked back by the saw. Every quarter at least one kid had that happen to them, and it was really hard not to laugh since the teacher always shows them how to use the tool correctly and points out that you should stand off to the side a little bit.