July 3rd, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Meet the creator of a 'next-generation Lego'

Editors note: CNN's "The Next List" will profile Ayah Bdeir, founder of the company littleBits, on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

By The Next List Staff, CNN

(CNN) - In an effort to inspire and equip the next generation of innovators, Ayah Bdeir has created what she says is the next-generation Lego. Called littleBits, her tools, which are not affiliated with Lego, aim to change the way kids learn about science, engineering and basic circuits.

Each littleBits is a pre-engineered electronic module that snaps together with tiny magnets to create just about anything: light, sound, sensors, power, switches and different types of displays. There is no limit to what a person can create, Bdeir says.

No matter how hard she tries, Bdeir said she can't keep littleBits in stock. These friendly, brightly colored blocks won best toy at the 2012 Toy Fair, and if Bdeir has her way, they’ll be in millions of homes next year.

“The idea is that we want to make every single electronic interaction in the world into a ready to use brick,” says Bdeir. “And you can build larger circuits without having a degree in engineering, without having to solder, without having to wire and without having to program.”

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  1. home Personal Training

    Ayah Bdeir you are a Genius! I think it is so important to teach kids about this. The thing that makes it so special is you found a way to do it at such a young age. This kids are now given the ability to understand engineering at such a young age.

    April 12, 2014 at 9:55 am | Reply
  2. Cecily

    If you can add an picture that pertains to your post design, then by all means do it. Possibilities are endless, but it is very important to take action.
    Cecily http://tinyurl.com/kuv773a

    February 21, 2014 at 11:03 am | Reply
  3. Is neat

    But not really original. Snap circuits have been around for years. Though I will check these out.

    August 2, 2013 at 9:01 am | Reply
  4. MFS

    There goes another entrepreneur commoditizing engineering rigor. One thing for sure, you can never commoditize Mathematics which is the king of all sciences 🙂

    Kids can learn to put stuff together and whatnot which is cool, just as script kiddies can copy code AND think they are hackers; Hopefully this will encourage kids to become curious and look behind the scenes.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  5. Dave in Arizona

    Nice idea. A technical version of the mechanical Capsela construction toys of the 80s.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  6. Michael

    Screw the kids...I want one!

    July 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  7. vxcnxcnerureu458

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    June 20, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
  8. sweetnanapat

    Wow! Very clever. I want one!

    May 29, 2013 at 11:47 am | Reply
  9. M. Danby

    We just need to start forcing girls into sciences. Stop letting them choose what they want to do. Clearly they don't know what they want to do or be when they grow up. We need to tell them what to be and do. Girls have too many choices and they are incapable of making good ones on their own.

    May 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Reply
    • Richard Parrilla

      As notable as the cause is of getting girls interested in science, M. Danby, you want to avoid blowback in these situations. Forcing anyone one way often leads to rebellion towards the other extreme, and then we create an anti-intellect generation destined to destroy scientific progress.

      May 10, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Reply
      • Samuel Lipoff

        He was being sarcastic you took

        May 10, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
  10. inventor sam

    If you take apart some household appliances you will have a mother load of little bits. That's how we rolled our own back in the days.

    May 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  11. Tom C

    An interesting idea. I wonder how it compares to, say, the Snap Circuits line from Elenco, or the Gakken EX-150 kit? It does look more free-form than either of those. I'd also love to take a look at the manual, as my biggest beef with electronics kits is that they usually give you a pile of circuits that you can assemble (sirens, blinking lights, radios, etc.), but don't teach anything about electronics, even at the circuit level, e.g. oscillators, amplifiers, digital logic. Good luck to Ms. Bdeir.

    February 22, 2013 at 9:23 am | Reply
    • ayahbdeir

      Hey Tom. I'm a big fan of Snapcircuits. Our main difference with Elenco's products is that you don't have to follow step by step guides to make projects with littleBits, the goal is to make them free-form, and really have the kids experiment, play and learn while they do it..

      May 25, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Reply
      • hopegold

        wow thats really cool and a very creative idea. my sister has snapcircuts and i play with it with her sometimes but people of any ge would play with this ALL THE TIME. everybody likes to create and its awesome to be able to do that this freely

        December 25, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  12. MrDifficult

    This will fail on multiple levels, perhaps the least of which is a total lack of originality. Top of the list: safety concerns by a world that would be nannied to the nth degree. See "Bucky Balls."

    January 22, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Reply
    • Tom C

      1700 emergency room incidents from swallowing rare earth magnets in the three years starting Jan 2009–doesn't sound like nanny state action to me to regulate the things to discourage ingestion. I don't see LittleBits being attractive to swallow, and as long as the magnets are properly encased per CPSC rules there should be no problem.

      As for originality–the market will decide.

      February 22, 2013 at 9:34 am | Reply
    • Deez

      I'd love for you to fall in a well.

      May 9, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Reply
    • Randall "texrat" Arnold


      May 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  13. Sam

    this is a great (business) idea, I'm sure their much cheaper than legos and more functional

    December 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • M. Danby

      I don't think there is anything particularly novel about this idea. What is interesting about this product to me however is the presentation. These things look like a lot of fun to play with.

      May 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Reply
      • littlebobby

        humy huh hippy ha

        December 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  14. A S

    While this is nice, there are sets from Elenco that are similar and 5 times cheaper on amazon

    November 18, 2012 at 9:37 am | Reply
  15. Alex Franco

    Modular Robotics already did this years ago..

    November 14, 2012 at 7:49 am | Reply
    • ayahbdeir

      Hi Alex, Cubelets are awesome and they're friends of ours! Not particularly proud of the time it took, but we've been working on littleBits for almost 6 years now :). Some day we'll make adapters to cubelets then the real fun starts!

      May 25, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Reply
      • lookinatrainbowz

        nice work Ayah , well done

        hope you become a billionaire out of it and keep expanding the potential in educational toys for kids to overcome the trend where kids these days think that moving their thumbs and fingers and killing things on a screen is the most attractive thing to fill their minds with.

        good luck to you 🙂

        November 12, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  16. Lincoln Thurber

    Not to be an old sour puss, but such toys have existed for decades. I inherited a Lectron kit from the 1960s from my uncle in 1980. He had a BIG kit so I could makes all sorts of things from radios to sound/light alarm triggers. I would even say the Lectron kits were far more refined because you could see the circuity diagrams on them so your completed device looked like a circuit diagram.


    August 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Reply
    • lookinatrainbowz


      her invention is solderless and requires no cutting or wire stripping tools = OHS health bonus

      they can assemble circuits faster this way , less time wasted = more time in the design , plan , evaluate phase

      i see plus plus here

      November 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  17. don z.

    To me, the idea of Lego is that you build and you see how it is put together. This lady's idea could be called the next lego, except her lego pieces are black boxes to the kids playing them.

    August 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Reply
    • Derrrrp

      Where are the black boxes?

      August 20, 2012 at 12:02 am | Reply
      • don z.

        Wikipedia says:

        In science and engineering, a black box is a device, system or object which can be viewed solely in terms of its input, output and transfer characteristics without any knowledge of its internal workings, that is, its implementation is "opaque" (black). Almost anything might be referred to as a black box: a transistor, an algorithm, or the human mind.

        The opposite of a black box is a system where the inner components or logic are available for inspection, which is sometimes known as a white box, a glass box, or a clear box.

        August 20, 2012 at 5:17 am |
  18. Jerry

    It's analogous to the step from the diode to the transistor...and what a world that spawned! A wonderful step from individual components to modular electronics for the masses.

    August 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Reply
    • Eukannt Avmai Adey

      Did you mean *vacuum tubes* to transistors? Diodes are semiconductor devices like transistors are. The main structural differences are the number of contacts. Diodes have two, transistors have three. That's not of course the fundamental difference, but that IS required for it to function.

      August 19, 2012 at 6:34 am | Reply
  19. TN

    Saw her presentation on TED. The price point is still a little too high. Hopefully economies of scale will kick in.

    August 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  20. Easy E

    Interesting product, and I must say the lady entrepreneur is easy on the eyes. Best of luck to Ms. (Mrs.?) Bdeir.

    August 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  21. TM

    Nice idea. Too bad each "little bit" costs about $14. I guess thats why they are the next gen LEGO.

    August 8, 2012 at 8:33 am | Reply
  22. MM

    Little toys are easily broken and easily lost. Magnets are a real problem in little toys.
    Snap circuits appears to have similar capacity, no magnets and is very robust.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:59 am | Reply
  23. Rick

    Next, on Shark Tank...

    August 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  24. Kate DeMarco

    Think of the possibilities if MORE than the currant 25% of Women in the US were studying Engineering and other sciences!!!! Why is education and student assistance so low on the must have funding list? It's no wonder we are 25th in the world for education.

    July 8, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Reply
    • henz

      If she was attractive I might listen to her.

      August 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Reply
    • Easy E

      The currant 25% of women? Are the other 75% raisins?

      August 11, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Reply
      • Henry

        Easy E, I just about wet myself. That was hilarious.

        December 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  25. rachelcisto

    Reblogged this on relativelyclever and commented:

    July 4, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Reply
    • Tomoaki

      Doing what you love as a career means folwloing your heart even when it doesn't make sense to those around you. It often involves taking risks to to find the perfect combination of what you believe in, what you love to do, and the right balance for that particular time in your life.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:18 am | Reply

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