We’re VERY excited to introduce the Smart Home Kit to the world! Before I dive into the Smart Home Kit, let me replay what we’ve been up to this year and what has has been building up to this exciting new addition.
The mission of littleBits is to put the power of electronics into the hands of everyone. In 2011, we started by focusing on “everyone” and in 2014, we enhanced our focus to “power”. In the spring, we released the Arduino module, our first programmable module. Then in July, we launched the cloudBit that allows you to snap the internet to anything and most recently, we announced bitLab, the app store for hardware.
We’re focusing on the power of the modules to break down complex technologies so anyone can build, prototype, and invent with electronics. We are democratizing hardware. With the Smart Home Kit, we’re extending the power of the cloudBit and bringing this idea of democratization into the home.
DEMOCRATIZING THE SMART HOME INDUSTRY
As of 2013, there were 5.5M connected homes in the United States with that number growing to be over 31M by 2017 and poised to become a $70 billion industry. We’re just at the beginning of the smart home revolution and we think littleBits will play a big part in it for three key reasons:
Retrofit vs. Replace – Current smart home companies are encouraging us to throw out all of our “dumb” home products and appliances (lamps, coffee machines, speakers, etc). 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.
Plus, what if your home decor or personal aesthetic clashes with the plethora of shiny, plastic IoT hubs out there? We want you to preserve your home’s unique personality by creating your own DIY solutions. You can easily embed the modules inside a custom housing that fits your style. Keep that quirky vintage lamp and upgrade it to the 21st century with littleBits… nothing in your house is too old to learn a few new tricks.
Interoperability – Many smart home systems require a hub and sensors that only work with their infrastructure and we believe that you shouldn’t have to subscribe to one particular company’s smart home ecosystem. With littleBits, you have access to our entire modular library. You can mix and match sensors, switches, and motors to suit your particular needs.
Solutions for You – Lastly, we all have really unique problems. Large smart home companies create solutions for key problems (e.g. smart lighting, coffee makers, speakers, etc.), but what if you have a specific problem at home that a big product company may choose not to solve? For example, maybe you live on a farm and want to create an internet connected chicken feeder for your home. We don’t want you to have to sit around waiting for the next IoT product to come around. We want YOU to invent it. The next greatest innovations and solutions to our problems aren’t going to come from big companies, they are going to come from you. 99 problems, but a smart home ain’t one. Am I right?
Now for the details…
SMART HOME KIT BASICS
The Smart Home Kit contains 14 modules, ranging from a temperature sensor to the internet-connected cloudBit. It also has 11 accessories–including an AC switch that allows you to remotely control household appliances (like fans and lights) with a littleBits circuit. No need to mess with any electrical wiring.
The kit also includes a fold out poster with information about every module in the kit as well as 14 project ideas (e.g. smart refrigerator, retrofitted curtains that open at sunrise, a smart lighting) to transform any room in your home. The possibilities are infinite. Step by step instructions for every project are illustrated in the poster as well as hundreds more online.
All of this is available starting today for $249 at littleBits.com and throughout select RadioShack stores.
MEET THE NEW BITS
Let’s talk about Bits! The cloudBit is the super star of the Smart Home Kit and there are five new modules that we’re psyched to add to our growing library of modules. Huge props to our engineering and cloud teams for bringing these modules to life.
The temperature sensor outputs a voltage between 0V and 5V based on the ambient temperature surrounding the module. Place it before the number module (in “value” mode) to see the current temperature. Transform your current AC unit into a Smart AC Unit with this module.
The threshold compares the signal coming into the module’s input connector to a voltage you set with the knob. If the input voltage is greater than the selected voltage, the output is set to 5V (high). Use it to make any sensor module into a trigger module. The Smart Fridge project is a great use of the threshold.
The number module features a two-digit, seven-segment LED display. In the “read” mode, the module displays information about the signal it’s receiving. In the “count” mode, the module counts up or down with each trigger. The counter can be reset by receiving a trigger at the reset bitSnap. This number module is new and improved from the existing number module. The Bark Tracker project shows off the counting functionality of the module really well AND it features a cute doge. Double threat project.
Add music and sound effects to your next project with the MP3 player! Just load your MP3 files onto the provided microSD card. Sending a signal to the MP3 player can make it work as an audio player or sampler. Toggle between two volume levels by pressing both the forward and back buttons simultaneously. An audio guide with detailed info is loaded on the microSD card. Check out the SMS Doorbell + Answering Machine to see the MP3 player in all it’s glory.
The IR (infrared) transmitter sends a short pulse of modulated infrared light. You can activate it with a trigger from an input module (like a button). Use it to wirelessly activate the AC switch to turn appliances like a lamp or fan on and off!
The AC Switch is an IR controlled electrical socket, AKA an appliance upgrader. Use it with the IR transmitter to remotely turn on or off anything that plugs into a standard outlet. As a note, it works with devices that use up to 15 Amps. Check out the Coffee Control project to see the AC switch in action.
MAKE SMART HOME PROJECTS
Alright, so even if you’ve only been remotely following tech news this past year, you’ve probably heard the term “smart home” before. These Smart Home Kit projects are guaranteed to push the limits of how we envision a connected home. You’ve probably seen smart lamps, smart speakers, and smart thermostats before – but have you ever seen a smart toilet paper dispenser?
Thanks to our amazing team of project designers and community pros, we have some really impressive projects to show off the capabilities of this kit. I think they are the most functional, hilarious, and beautiful group of projects we’ve made thus far. Scroll down and see for yourself!
Make your dumb coffee machine smart! There is no need to buy a completely new coffee maker just to connect it to the internet. Use littleBits to brew the perfect pot of joe anytime from anywhere. This project features the brand new AC switch and IR transmitter. Check out the full project tutorial here.
This project was inspired by our VP of design, Gian, whose kids accidentally left the fridge door open one day. Gian then proceeded to throw away all of the tasty food inside of his fridge. With a simple circuit and some adhesive shoes, you can save all of your food and get alerted if your refrigerator temperature goes above a certain degree you set with the threshold module. Check out the full project tutorial here.
Toilet Paper Inventory
When someone takes the last roll of toilet paper, everyone in your house gets a text to buy some more. This project is one of my favorites because it’s such a clever use of the light sensor AND the video is absolutely hilarious! Community Pro and former littleBits designer August Park did an incredible job. Check out the full project tutorial here.
Good Morning Sunshine
A double duty alarm clock that wakes you up by opening your curtains and playing your favorite songs. Dave, a designer at littleBits, did an extraordinary job at bringing this concept to life! Check out the full project tutorial here.
Well, there you have it. Everything you wanted to know about the Smart Home Kit and then some. I hope you’ve gotten some inspiration to embrace your inner DIYer and transform your home. I can’t wait to see all of the crazy inventions that our community members make.
I love working on big projects like kits because they are carried by every team in the company – from engineering, to design, to marketing, to web, to operations, etc. I’d like to virtually give the BIGGEST, most amorous hugs to all of my teammates. I feel humbled to work with such hardworking people every day.
– Krystal Persaud, Product Design Lead