LittleBits' Ayah Bdeir: Making Hardware As Hackable As Code

Lauren Orsini | ReadWrite | March 25, 2014

Long before she became the CEO of a tech company, Ayah Bdeir was an electronic artist whose installations shared messages about Arab identity. "Random Search" is an undergarment that records and shares the experience of an airport patdown. "Les Années Lumière," or "The Years of Light," visualizes three years of explosions in Lebanon with blinking LED lights on a map.

Bdeir's creative expression was made possible in part by her background in electronics, which in turn helped inspire her to create LittleBits, an open source system of preassembled, modular circuit components that snap together with magnets. You don’t need to solder circuits, or even stick wires into a breadboard, to be creative with LittleBits. Bdeir’s strategy is to streamline engineering so that everyone can hack hardware almost as easily as software.

Making Electronics Modular

ReadWrite: Where did the LittleBits idea come from?

Ayah Bdeir: I have a background in computer engineering as an undergrad, and then I did my masters at MIT at the Media Lab. That’s where I, for the first time, learned about this idea of using engineering and technology for creative purposes. You know, being able to make art with electronics or with code or with mechanical engineering.