Engineer, artist, and inventor Ayah Bdeir has focused her career on democratizing hardware to make education and innovation more accessible. Considered a leader in the Maker Movement her involvement started when she and some friends created their own Maker’s Faire in Beirut when she was seventeen. In fact she earned her MS at the MIT Media Lab because of its support of the Maker Movement. This movement believes that we have to go back to making things for ourselves and understanding the objects around us.
As part of her efforts to help people become makers Bdeir created and sold the first littleBits kit in 2011 and in the short time since, the company has been recognized with over 30 awards. littleBits are interchangeable bricks that are designed so that everyone can be creative with electronics and reinvent their world. There are currently 60 Bits which are electronic modules that are pre-engineered to have one specific function. These functions include serving as a power supply, acting as sensors, and producing many types of output.
The Bits are unique in that they snap together using magnets making them highly accessible to many users. By using these bricks to build electronics kids, and even adults, can gain a better understanding of the technology in the world around them. The company is building a community of contributors who experiment, share online and learn from each other. One of the things that makes this possible is that littleBits is open source – meaning the circuit design files for the modules are available making them better tools for teaching and learning.
Actually, Bdeir has been a leader in the Open Hardware movement as well, she spearheaded the creation of the first Open Hardware definition which led to the CERN Open Hardware License and was a co-founder of the Open Hardware Summit.
Besides being a tech innovator she is an interactive artist whose work combines experimental media and technology and has been displayed at the Modern Museum of Art in New York City and the Royal College of Art in London to name just a few.
Written by Angela Goad