littleBits Electronics is a company selling tiny modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping called… littleBits. They do not require soldering, wiring, or programming, can be buttons, sensors, motors, etc…, and are the electronics equivalent of LEGO, and are suitable to 8 years old and older kids. The company have recently launched a new product called CloudBit, a module based on Freescale i.MX233 with Wi-Fi connectivity meant to be used/snapped with existing littleBits.
- Processor – Freescale i.MX233 ARM926EJ-S processor @ 454MHz
- System Memory – 64MB of RAM;
- Storage – microSD slot with included 4GB micro SD card pre-loaded with a customized Arch Linux ARM distribution
- Connectivity – 802.11b/g Wi-Fi via included USB dongle
- USB – micro USB port (for power only)
- Connectors – 2x BitSnap connectors for LittleBits connectivity using i.MX233 ADC/DAC signals
- Debugging – Pads for UART (3.3V, 8-N-1, 115,200 baud) to access the serial console (bottom of the board)
- Misc -Status LED, Setup button
- Power – via USB (power module, wall adapter, and cable included)
- Dimensions – 15 x 10 x 5mm
- Weight – 154 grams
CloudBit also includes a USB power module, and a wall adapter with cable. It runs Arch Linux ARM and leverages node.js technologies. The overall system diagram can be found here.
This little module allows you to connect virtually any device to the Internet, such as a thermostat that turns on when it’s too hot or cold, a doorbell that send an SMS or an email, etc… All that “without programming, soldering or wiring required”, the company claims. So how do you control it? You can use IFTTT “If this then that” app to connect to online services such as Facebook, Gmail and Twitter, as well as compatible hardware such as Nest and Philips HUE. Although programming CloudBit is not required, more advanced users can still do with via the Cloud API or littleBits Arduino module.
If you are new to littleBits, the CloudBit won’t be useful by itself, and that’s why the company also offers a Cloud Starter Bundle with CloudBit, the USB power module and wall adapter, but also several littleBits modules namely a “long” LED, a button, a servo, a sound trigger, as well as a mounting board, a sort of breadboard for the company’s modules.
The cloudBit and littleBits can interact with the web and each other in three ways:
- Bits to Web – Using hardware to communicate with web services and software
- Web to Bits – Communicating events in the web to the CloudBit, using for example, the company’s Cloud Control or the third party IFTTT app.
- Bits to Bits – Communicating from machine to machine
The company features several demo projects with instructions including a chicken feed monitoring system, a remote fish/pet feeder, a baby monitor, an SMS doorbell, etc… and they also provide a few IFTTT samples, as tutorials.