The smart home market has exploded in the past year. This fairly futuristic development means that you can pretty easily program your house to do your bidding, but you're also somewhat restricted by which hub and standard you buy. The littleBits Smart Home Kit promises to change that.
The same company that set out to democratise hardware a few years ago with its Lego-like electronics kit is now bundling 14 of its so-called bits (read: Lego blocks for electronics) into a new kit that makes it easy to create a DIY smart home. The kit includes everything from the innovative cloudBit that lets you connect pretty much anything to the internet, to new bits like an MP3 player, a temperature sensor, and an IR transmitter. Along with instructions for 14 different projects and 11 accessories to help build them, the kit enables you to do anything from create your own smart thermostat to hack into random devices and connect them to your home.
This newfound flexibility sounds pretty exciting. After all, when littleBits announced the cloudBit, it was technically possible to hack your home using that and the existing bits. With the new bits and a new focus building on smart home devices, though, the littleBits community is getting really creative. Some community members have already been testing out the new bits and come up with some pretty interesting devices like innovative door bells and custom-built pet feeders, the kinds of things you won't find in your local Home Depot.
Take this Bark Tracker, for instance. It counts the number of times your dog barks at any given time during the day and sends you a push notification if that number passes a threshold. In other words, it lets you know if your dog thinks something is wrong:
Another fun example of how customisable littleBits can make your smart home is the You've Got Mail alert. You simply identify key contacts, and when they email you, it will play the You've Got Mail sound from Aol. Simple, sorta silly, but all yours.
The Smart Home kit also marks littleBits' first retail partnership. Starting today, you can buy the kit at RadioShack stores across the United States for $US249. And the number of possibilities for all the bits it contains will only continue to grow as members of the littleBits community come up with new project ideas and upload instructions to the littleBits website. This is what democratizing hardware looks like. Get involved. [littleBits]