We get a lot of interest from parents and educators surrounding littleBits and innobits. Especially the difference between the two products. Both are magnetically connected electronic building blocks. Both products empower people to invent and create. And both products are created by companies that want to bring STEM learning to young learners. So let's clear the air and reveal the black and white difference between the two exciting products.
From the outset, it's worth mentioning that in our experience littleBits are a far more polished product and ecosystem.
littleBits Electronics is a New York City-based tech startup, founded back in 2011. The littleBits blocks were created to bring the power of electronic circuits to anyone; with no soldering, wiring or programming required. littleBits is one of the biggest players in the Maker Movement their completely original idea of electronics building blocks was first showcased back in 2009 at the world MakerFaire, winning multiple prizes and completely blowing the minds of the movement. As of 2016, they have collaborated with NASA, the American Museum of Modern Art, KORG and many other big names in a wide range of industries to design and provide kits that suit fun and educational themes. For example, The Synth Kit and Space kit.
Winning multiple awards and commendations worldwide is the result of the innovative design and usability of the littleBits ecosystem. And they are keeping up with the industry too; since the original product line launched in 2011, littleBits has created an entire network of support for their platform that endeavours to stay on the leading edge of innovation in the field. In fact, littleBits is so awesome that we can't contain their system in such a short article, we've written a bunch of others articles that cover just how fantastic their products and initiatives are:
- LittleBits Community & the Workshop Set
- littleBits for Educators
- littleBits in Australia!
- littleBits at home
InnoBits by METAS
innoBits is a similar product to littleBits. However, this product is made by the company METAS (or funmetas). METAS was only established in 2014 (post-littleBits) and is managed out of Hong Kong, China. The name is an acronym for Math, Engineering, Technology, Arts and Science. A reflection of the company's philosophy and mission toward bringing those fields within reach of children all around the world. METAS want to nurture children with the skills to use creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking to face future challenges. The idea behind their hardware is a very similar IO Bit to littleBits. It's at the core of every kit they sell. Their kits are collections of these Bits as well as LEGO-style building blocks. Kits range from foundation-building electronics kits right through to fun robotics all-in-one kits.
If you'd like to take a look at the METAS range for a cheaper alternative to littleBits, we've got the whole range here.
We've found that both kits are absolutely fantastic ways to get young minds interested in learning. The way the bits work together is quite literally the perfect storm for creative ideas and inventions. While littleBits is more expensive, it's the hands down winner for value given all things considered.
InnoBits has some really inexpensive kits available (with quirks here and there), making great gifts and a fun afternoon of instruction-following robotic chomp-n-stomp dinosaur creation! Sometimes the innoBits instructions miss a step or assume you received every tiny piece of LEGO joining block in your kit when you didn't. Both of these things can be a bit of a bummer, but you'll still have a tonne of fun putting it all together and watching your invention tear itself apart. If you have a faulty IO bit, or you're missing parts, it might be a bit of an uphill battle getting in touch with and negotiating replacements with their support staff in China too.
littleBits is packed with educational value and the learning systems (both built in and online) are of the highest standard. Each part is well-accounted for not to mention thoroughly explained in the included product manual. Tonnes of project ideas are available as well, with none of the littleBits kits created for just a single purpose build. More information is always being contributed by the enormous community online; with weekly challenges, online project management for sharing inventions and the mobile app adding to the community driven feel of the littleBits system.
Here at Core Electronics, we run local workshops where we use a range of different littleBits kits alongside a bunch of other creative tools to help facilitate tech skills in young minds. If you'd like to know more about the workshops, about littleBits in Australia or where to get your own kits, get in touch with us today!