I’ve wanted to build my own droid ever since I first watched Star Wars: A New Hope. Thanks to New York-based startup littleBits, my dreams might finally come true.
The littleBits Droid Inventor Kit is a Star Wars toy based off of the company’s line of electronic building block toys. Would-be engineers can link magnetic building blocks together to build a rudimentary robot chassis that can be controlled through your mobile device via the Droid Inventor app.
No need to worry about over-sized globs of grease
The kit comes with 6 ‘bits’ — the electronic building blocks created by littleBits — as well as 23 droid parts and three stickers sheets. The bits include a control hub, a proximity sensor, a power supply and a DC motor.
Additionally, the kit comes with a link to download the Droid Inventor app — which connects the droid to mobile devices via Bluetooth so kids can control its movement, lights and sounds. The app is surprisingly responsive, and in my time playing with a completed droid, I had no issues with mobility or steering.
The app also serves as a digital instruction manual. Once the droid has been constructed, children have the option of completing 17 extra missions in order to learn how to implement the additional blocks that come with the kit to further customize their droid.
For instance, the proximity sensor add-on allows the droid to take note of its surroundings, in order to avoid walls and other hazards. Combined with the droid’s self-driving mode, kids can build their own quasi-autonomous astromech, complete with beeps and whizzes.
Accelerating STEM education, one bit at a time
The Droid Inventor Kit is the result of the work done by littleBits as part of the Disney Accelerator Program.
“A lot of time was spent thinking through the journey, taking kids through understanding their first snaps and building an R2 unit,” said Casey Koppelson, a public relations manager at littleBits, in an interview with MobileSyrup.
The idea was to provide children with a continuously customizable toy that emphasized science and tech education, as well as creativity.
“Our ultimate goal was to inspire people to let their imaginations run wild.”
The Droid Inventor Kit can be combined with other littleBits blocks.
For example, a child can add extra wheels and more lights to build a more customized droid, all while still being able to control their droid through the Inventor mobile app.
“Our ultimate goal was to inspire people to let their imaginations run wild,” said Rowan Wernham, the experience lead at littleBits.
Children aren’t forced to build a light side droid either. The kit comes with additional stickers so kids can build a dark side droid, or even a green droid.
Kids don’t even have to use the droid shell that comes with the kit. The chassis is reasonably sized, so everything from juice cartons to cardboard boxes can act as a custom shell.
The littleBits Droid Inventor Kit will be available on September 1st, 2017 — coinciding with Force Friday.
You can pick up a kit online at Indigo.ca or at Indigo brick-and-mortar stores. The kit retails for $129 CAD.
LittleBits is based out of New York City, and was founded by Canadian Ayah Bdeir.