LightUp’s augmented learning platform empowers children to engage with hands-on learning on their own. With our first line of kits, children can use the LightUp app to learn about electronics and programming. When the app recognizes errors in a circuit (by detecting blocks with a smartphone or tablet camera), it provides constructive feedback to guide students just as an instructor would. The seamless integration of our app with a tangible platform opens the door to novel features, such as the use of narrative and gameplay elements to enhance the hands-on learning and play experience. By combining tangible play with virtual learning, we are creating a world where every child can tinker, hack, and create.

Background

At the moment, playing and prototyping with electronics necessitates the use of a breadboard, alligator clips, or a soldering iron, which frustrates many eager learners. We started LightUp to create a learning platform that makes the circuit construction and debugging process smoother.

Goal

Our goal with LightUp is to teach kids about electronics and programming, particularly those who are intimidated or frustrated by the tools and resources that exist today. We're doing so by backgrounding the extraneous details of circuit construction and emphasizing crucial concepts.

Process

This project can actually trace its roots to two separate TLTL projects, LightUp and LogicBites. We decided to take LightUp out of the lab by joining a hardware startup accelerator (HAXLR8R), and embarking on the journey of turning our prototypes into manufacturable products we could sell to consumers. Our earliest prototypes were laser cut out of acrylic, followed by CNC'd ABS plastic blocks. We began working with a contract manufacturer after our successful Kickstarter campaign.

Concurrent to the hardware development, we've been developing the LightUp Learning mobile app for Android and iOS devices. Utilizing open source resources such as TopCodes and Arduino has allowed us to accelerate app development.

Results

Impact

  • Awards: Maker Faire Editor's Choice, Dr. Toy 100 Best, Dr. Toy 100 Best Educational, Popular Mechanics Best Toys for Kids, Amazon HTL PickAmazon STEM Pick
  • Accelerators: HAX, StartX
  • Funding: NSF SBIR, angels
  • Kickstarter: $120k campaign
  • Stores: Featured at all 650 Barnes and Noble stores nationwide, and in 100s of speciality stores
  • Sales so far: ~10,000 kits, 150,000 projects made as of early 2015

Press coverage: