CharmBits are modular circuit wearables that teach children the basics of electronics.
Doug Cook Embedded Systems, Hardware
Elizabeth Lin User Interface, Visual Design, iOS
Ian Shain 3D Modeling, Mechanics
Kiyana Salkeld iOS, Project Management
Target Users & User Research
Children in primary school between 2nd and 6th grades.
We conducted observations in the San Francisco Exploratorium and interviewed Elementary School Educators to inform our design process.
Products such as LittleBits, Goldilocks, and Snap Circuits compete in the same market space. CharmBits adds a missing level of abstraction to this space that allows young children to learn electronics while allowing them to express themselves with wearables.
1) Child / Parent: Parents can use the iPad companion app to facilitate lessons as the child follows along.
2) Child / Child: Children can combine their CharmBit creations to build more complex interactions and learn together.
3) Child: A child can interact with the CharmBits all by themselves, learning at their own pace.
CharmBits themselves are modular cells that light up as a form of interaction with users as they are connected and disconnected from “circuits” on the band. The flexible band allows users to wear their finished product while providing the CharmBit circuits with power.
The modules connect to clasps on a silicone band and establish the power and logic connections via spring-loaded pins.
iPad Companion App
The iPad app walks parents and children through interactive stories that teach electronic concepts and help debug problems along the way.
Each CharmBit contains a single core ARM microprocessor and 3-color LED. CharmBits communicate with neighbors via serial, rendering it unnecessary to house dangerous components (such as capacitors that may short or explode) in the containers.
In the future we might extend the concepts that CharmBits teach to include programming and other analytical skills. We might also refine our manufacturing process to accommodate pieces smaller than what our prototypes could support.