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LittleBits' BitLab wants to be the app store of hardware components

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Thinking about building something out of LittleBits' library of interconnecting circuit boards? Until today, your creativity has been artificially limited -- LittleBits uses a proprietary magnetic connector for each of its snap-on components, without any ability to add objects to your project that fall outside of the company's offered modules. Today that changes: Today LittleBits announced a new program that allows customers to prototype, design, manufacture and sell their own LittleBit components. It's called Bitlab, and the company hopes that it will become an "App Store for hardware."

Despite the company's comparison to Apple's App Store, the BitLab is a little more complicated than a software distribution system. Hardware developers interested in adding to LittleBits' component library need to build a working-model hardware out of the BitLab HDK -- a $39.95 kit that comes with a collection of modules (also all sold separately) deigned to be connected to breadboards or non-standard components for the express purpose of prototyping. Developers then submit their prototype schematics to the BitLab website, where it will face the scrutiny of both the community and the LittleBits staff. If a prospective module is approved, LittleBits will work with the developer to streamline the product, push it through to manufacturing and award the designer 10% of the modules sales on the LittleBits' store.

Company CEO and founder Ayah Bdeir sees the BitLab as more than a way to give the community a way to design its own components though, she sees it as a potential disruption of hardware development. "When the Apple App store first launched, a lot of the apps were games. They had frivolous features like 'make your face look fat,'" Bdeir told Engadget. "Now you have companies that are entirely based around the App Store. We think the same thing can happen with hardware." Either way, the BitLab was a natural extension for LittleBits -- the CEO said that its community had already made a habit of hacking and modifying modules to create new sensors and components.

BitLab launches today, but interested folks won't have to wait to enjoy the program's fruits: LittleBits recruited a handful of hardware developers to create new bits ahead of the program's launch -- including modules from Makey Makey and Bare Conductive. Curious? Check out the company's official announcement at the source link below.

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