littleBits is an award-winning educational technology company that is reinventing the way kids learn so they can grow up to be tomorrow’s change makers. littleBits makes a system of electronic building blocks that snap together to turn ideas into inventions. Their online learning community, DIY, teaches kids to turn passions into creative skills.
Emily Tuteur is an industrial designer and the Director of Product Design at littleBits. As a founding member of littleBits, Emily has been involved in the design and creation of thirteen kits, most recently leading the team that designed the Droid Inventor Kit, The Toy Association’s 2018 Creative Toy of the Year. Prior to littleBits, Emily worked with the internationally renowned light and interactive sculptor, Jen Lewin. Emily holds a master’s degree in industrial design from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Emily recently discussed littleBits via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): Which recent projects/products are you most excited about and why?
Emily Tuteur (ET): I’m always excited to see where littleBits’ own invention process takes us, but outside of our products, I am excited that littleBits is a company that stands for something. Most importantly we stand for our community. Today, littleBits has been used in millions of inventions around the world. We have a huge community of inventors who are dedicated to our brand; we are authentic; and importantly, we don’t stop at incorporating science, technology, engineering, and math into our product — we also make sure to incorporate art, music, and creativity into everything we do. We also stand for continuous iteration. There are dozens of companies that sell variations of the electronic building block, but littleBits remains the leading voice in the industry, not just because we were first, but because we are constantly improving our experiences and products.
MM: What have been the most rewarding aspects of working with littleBits?
ET: Seeing what kids make! It’s amazing to see firsthand what littleBits’ designs allow other people to do — it is far beyond what we, the designers, think is possible during the design process. Also, working with the team at littleBits is super creative, inspiring, and fun.
MM: What sort of capabilities do you think some of these robots might have within the next five years?
ET: What is great about littleBits is that our platform is modular. This allows us to continuously adapt and stay relevant. New Bits can be added to incorporate the latest and greatest tech. Any new Bits we create further enhance our growing library of Bits and the capabilities of the overall system.
MM: How do you envision the brand as a whole evolving in the coming years?
ET: It’s amazing what people are doing with littleBits right now out in the world. We’re seeing cloud-connected droids, animatronic peacocks, voice-activated prosthetic prototypes, and kids all over the world inventing with littleBits. When I started, we were just starting to build out the library of Bits and had no way of attaching them to materials other than tape. It’s amazing to look back and see how far the product has come and the reach we have today. Enabling invention and creating changemakers is incredibly gratifying. I’ve learned that products can have a reach far beyond what you will ever imagine.
MM: Is there anything else that you wish to discuss?
ET: littleBits just launched four new products this year that I am excited about!
Avengers Hero Inventor Kit: Kids become their own Super Heroes by building and customizing their high-tech hero gear and unique identity with littleBits electronic blocks. With their favorite Marvel Avengers, like Iron Man, Black Panther and Shuri, and Ant-Man and the Wasp, kids enter Super Hero training in the app, control their gear with their smart device, give gear new abilities with easy block coding, and use their creativity and STEAM skills to customize their own hero identity and gear to match.
Base Inventor Kit: Over 12 activities in the free Inventor App guide kids through building fun inventions, such as
a voice-activated robotic gripper arm that can act as a prosthetic. Kids are then challenged to create their own inventions to improve their home, help their community, or save the environment
Electronic Music Inventor Kit: Creative kids build and customize a-rockin’ synth guitar using littleBits electronic building blocks, then transform it into brand new instruments from their imagination such as hands-free air drums, drawing inspiration from some of the most world-changing musical inventors.
Space Rover Inventor Kit: Over 30 activities in the free Inventor App guide kids through understanding the highly
competitive space race and building and controlling space vehicle inventions, like a space rock collector or an alien life detector.
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To learn more about little Bits, visit their official website.
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