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Hardware Hack Lab

Thoughtworks Hackers at the SmartHome Jam

Who knew electronics could be so much fun?

During a Thoughtworks company get-together in New York yesterday, employees took part in a 'Smart Home Jam'. We seeded the activity with a few LittleBits circuits and some instructions to get off the ground.

Our session lasted only two hours, but you'd be amazed at the energy and momentum you can build in that time. Our groups all built functioning circuits within minutes, and then it's a matter of which parts you want to switch in and out to extend your circuit.

The LittleBits kits make it straight-forward and intuitive to think in terms of modular hardware. Much of the complexity is extracted out, which makes them no good for industrial use, but perfect for experimenting and prototyping.

Hackers at Thoughtworks

The particular Smart Home kits we used make it easy to get your hardware talking to the internet. Once there you can build "recipes" quickly and intuitively with ifttt, which gives you an incredible range of options.

These kits are like a hardware equivalent of creative coding toolkits, in that they provide a simple 'sketch-like' starting point but leave the door wide open for those who want to go deep.

Hackers at Thoughtworks

Our teams made a remote-triggerable plant-watering device, a temperature-controlled beer fridge switch, an MP3 player and a Facebook-posting button. We had great fun and got new people into hardware hacking!