Friday, 1 September 2017

littleBits Droid Inventor Kit

littleBits have announced their new Star Wars themed Droid Inventor Kit in time for Force Friday.

The kit uses littleBits snap together electronics components together with plastic parts to assemble an R2-D2 style droid. There's an accompanying app which guides kids through the assembly and then can be used to control the droid and work through a set of challenges.

The overall concept looks like a lot of fun. We find that lots of kids want to build robots but not all have the stamina for a complex build. Snapping together littleBits and then assembling fairly large parts and adding stickers strikes a good balance. The Droid Inventor Kit is designed for kids aged 8-12.

We love that the resulting droid is transparent so you can see the electronics inside.

The app is available for iOS (requires version 10 - iPad 4 and more recent) and Android. 

We're big fans of littleBits, particularly their simplicity and gender-neutral appeal. Have they lost the gender-neutral part with the Droid Inventor Kit? Well even with recent strong female characters, Star Wars does skew towards boys. And sorry Artoo, but you are another blue robot

littleBit are clearly aware of the importance of continuing to appeal to girls. Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO of littleBits says “We’ve created a gender-inclusive product that celebrates kids’ own self-expression and ingenuity, while showcasing the same characteristics of imagination, grit, and invention that are embodied in the Star Wars franchise.”

littleBits have made their marketing for the Droid Inventor Kit as appealing to girls as possible and the upcoming Last Jedi movie does look like it has more female characters (we just rewatched Rogue One and I was shocked how few female characters it has.)

One of the best things about littleBits is that you can make whatever you want. But for some kids, the open-endedness can be overwhelming and they appreciate a more structured kit (like the more recent sets such as Rule Your Room.) The theme should hopefully draw in more kids who are really into Star Wars but haven't really explored tech. That's always a good thing. 

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