Littlebits' latest kits are inspired by modern inventors

Build a keytar, robotic arm or makeshift space rover.


LittleBits is introducing three new kits that teach children about electronics and how to think with a creative, inventive and activist mindset. The Base Inventor Kit, which will retail for $99.99, comes with 10 color-coded pieces that snap onto a wearable "arm." A companion mobile app guides you through a series of activities inspired by real-life inventors; a sound-activated gripper arm, for instance, is based on modern prosthetics, while a "stuff protector" mimicks an alarm made to protect lions and cattle in Kenya. The app then challenges you to create new inventions that protect the environment or help your local community.

The second $99.99 set, called the Electronic Music Inventor Kit, allows you to build a miniature synth guitar. It comes with eight Bits (LittleBits' equivalent of LEGO bricks), including an accelerometer, oscillator and proximity sensor, and a cardboard frame to rock out on. Different combinations will form a basic keytar, a rhythm guitar that triggers custom beats, and some mysterious instruments that ape the expressive, performative tools developed by electronic musician Imogen Heap. It can also be used to make a tiny drum kit and, like the Base Inventor Kit, will challenge you to make something new using the parts inside the box.

The third and final set is the Space Rover Inventor Kit. It's inspired, unsurprisingly, by NASA and the skilled employees who drive moon and mars vehicles remotely. The package costs $199.99 and comes with 15 Bits, as well as a battery, mounting board, spherical ball coaster, axle and wheels. They come together, of course, to make a rover that can tackle pedestrian missions on Earth. Additional activities help you craft a robotic arm, space hammer and tiny cargo carrier. And, like all LittleBits' kits, you can use the Bits to enhance other sets or build something entirely new.

The company will be supporting these products post-release through an educational video platform called JAM. It was developed by DIY Co., a startup that LittleBits acquired in July. Prior to the deal, JAM offered a mixture of free and premium courses (think of it like Lynda for kids). It's not clear, though, if LittleBits will be charging for its new and complementary Inventor Kit courses. If the company takes that route, it could lead to a platform filled with premium, digital-only instructions. That could earn LittleBits a tidy sum and encourage customers to continuously experiment with its ever-growing library of colorful Bits.