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Ayah Bdeir (born 1982 in Montreal, Quebec) is the founder and CEO of littleBits, an open source library of modular electronics that snap together with magnets.[1] Bdeir is considered one of the leaders of the Maker Movement[2] and Open Hardware Movement[3] and a proponent of an open Internet of Things.[4] She was named to Fast Company's list of "Most Creative People in Business" in 2013,[5] Entrepreneur magazine's 10 Up and Coming Leaders to Watch (2014),[6] and Popular Mechanics' 25 Makers Who are Reinventing the American Dream (2014).[7] Bdeir was named a 2010 Creative Commons fellow for her work in defining Open Hardware and for co-founding the Open Hardware Summits of 2010 and 2011.[8] She is an MIT Media Lab alum[8] and a TED Senior Fellow.[9]

Ayah Bdeir
Ayah Bdeir.jpg
Ayah Bdeir in 2010.
Born 1982 (age 35–36)
Montreal, Quebec
Nationality Lebanese, Canadian
Education MS Media Arts and Sciences, Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Awards 2007 Eyebeam Fellowship, 2008 Eyebeam Senior Fellowship, 2009 Eyebeam Senior Fellowship, 2009 Maker Faire Editor's Pick, 2010 Creative Commons Fellowship, 2010 INK Fellowship, 2011 Maker Faire Editor's Pick, 2012 TED Fellowship, 2013 Fast Company Most Creative People in Business, 2013 CNN Top 10 Emerging Startups, 2013 IDSA Gold Award, 2013 TED Senior Fellowship,2014 Inc. Magazine 35 Under 35, 2014 Popular Mechanics 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream, 2014 Entrepreneur Magazine 10 Up and Coming Leaders to Watch, 2014 MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35, 2014 CNBC Next List


Education and careerEdit

Bdeir earned a Masters of Science degree from the MIT Media Lab and undergraduate degrees in Computer Engineering and Sociology from the American University of Beirut. In 2008, she was awarded a fellowship at Eyebeam in New York City [10] She has taught graduate classes at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and Parsons The New School for Design.[11] In 2010, Bdeir served as a design mentor on the reality TV show, Stars of Science.[8]

In September 2011, Bdeir started littleBits Electronics, a startup with the goal to “put the power of electronics in the hands of everyone, and to break down complex technologies so that anyone can build, prototype, and invent."[12] The company is based in New York with funding from such investors as True Ventures,[13] Foundry Group, and Two Sigma.[14]

In 2012, Bdeir received the TED Fellowship[15] and gave a talk at the TED conference[16] in Long Beach called "Building Blocks That Blink, Beep and Teach."[17]


littleBits Synth Kit components

littleBits is an open source library of electronic modules that snap together for the purposes of prototyping, learning and entertainment. littleBits makes prototyping with sophisticated electronics a matter of snapping small magnets together. All logic and circuitry is pre-engineered, so users can experiment without knowing electronics. Bdeir has said she created littleBits to allow people to “understand electronics which govern our modern lives and to let people become creators and makers.”[18]

In April 2009, littleBits was exhibited at MakerFaire Bay Area[19] where it won more than 20 awards. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art added littleBits to its design collection.[20]

Maker Movement and Internet of ThingsEdit

Bdeir is considered a leader in the Maker and Internet of Things movements. She was named to Popular Mechanics’ 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream in 2014[7] and has spoken at TED,[9] SXSW,[4] Solid,[21] and CreativeMornings[22] about the Maker Movement, the importance of democratizing technology, and the Internet of Things.

Open HardwareEdit

Bdeir is a proponent of the Open Hardware Movement, an initiative aimed at ensuring that technological knowledge is accessible to everyone,[23] and co-founded the Open Hardware Summit, an annual conference organized by the Open Source Hardware Association.[24] In 2010, Bdeir was awarded a fellowship with Creative Commons for her work in defining Open Hardware and for co-chairing the Open Hardware Summits of 2010 and 2011.[8]

Bdeir spearheaded the first Open Hardware Definition[25] that was adopted by CERN for its Open Hardware License.[26] As a fellow at Creative Commons, she led the public competition of the Open Hardware logo—now adopted on millions of circuit boards around the world. Bdeir has published academic papers and coined the term "Electronics As Material," which is the idea of "thinking of electronics as material that can be combined with other traditional ones."[27]

Major worksEdit

As an interactive artist. Bdeir uses experimental media and technology to look at deliberate and subconscious representations of Arab identity.[28]

  • Ejet Ejet: Elusive Electricity (Ejet Ejet) is an interactive neon installation that embodies the immaterial persona of electricity in the Arab world. The piece shines a bright neon light intriguing the passer-by, but as one comes closer, the light flickers, dims, buzzes, and ultimately pops: power is out and the room is dipped into darkness.
  • Teta Haniya's Secrets: A line of electronic lingerie inspired by a Syrian tradition of hacking electronic toys, integrating them into panties, and selling them in the most casual of fashions at popular ‘Damascan’ souks.
  • Les Annees Lumiere: A bird’s eye view of 3 years of violence, strife, and very bright lights rocking Lebanon, remembered and replayed in 45 minutes of proportionally timed light display.
  • Arabiia: A caricature of media stereotypes typically associated with Arab women. The convertible burka is equipped with two servo motors and a switch. It enables its wearer to voluntarily choose which of two extreme representations fits her mood and audience.
  • Random Search: A subtle, reactive undergarment. It records, shares, and analyses the experience of invasive airport searches on behalf of our silent, abiding, fearful bodies.

Shows and exhibitionsEdit


  1. ^ GIRIDHARADAS, ANAND. "The Kitchen-Table Industrialists". New York Times Magazine. 13 May 2011
  2. ^ Yakowicz, Will. "The Most Intriguing Businesspeople of 2014". Inc. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Ayah Bdeir - Behind the Scenes". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Democratizing the Internet of Things is An Urgency". SXSW. SXSW. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  5. ^ Campbell-Dollaghan, Kelsey. "The DIY Champion". Fast Company. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "10 Up and Coming Leaders to Watch". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Raymond, Chris. "25 Makers Who Are Reinventing The American Dream". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Ayah Bdeir of LittleBits". MIT Media Lab. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Ayah Bdeir: Engineer and artist". TED. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Eyebeam Press Release. "Eyebeam will hold Open Studios for Artists In Residence and Senior Fellows" Archived 3 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. 15 May 2009.
  11. ^ "Ayah Bdeir". Global Portal for Women in ICT. Global Portal for Women in ICT. Archived from the original on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  12. ^ McHugh, Molly (18 November 2014). "The home of the future is inside littleBits' Smart Home Kit". News article. The Daily Dot. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  13. ^ Lunden, Ingrid (18 July 2012). "Toys Grow Up: LittleBits Picks Up $3.65M, PCH Deal To Build Out Its Open-Source Hardware Vision". TechCrunch. TechCrunch. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "True Ventures and Foundry Group lead $11.1 mln round for LittleBits". PE Hub. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  15. ^ blog, TED. "received"
  16. ^ conference, TED. "talk"
  17. ^ "Building blocks that blink, beep and teach". TED. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  18. ^ "Electrical engineering is child's play with littleBits". Bangkok Post. Bangkok Post. 22 March 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  19. ^ Makerfaire 2009 Archived 18 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine., Bay Area, littleBits.
  20. ^ Bergerson, Brian. "Little things making BIG things happen in the MoMA Store Windows". MoMA. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  21. ^ "The Internet as Material: Empowering the Next Phase of Connected Hardware Innovation". O'Reilly. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  22. ^ "Ayah Bdeir Q+A". CreativeMornings. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  23. ^ Griffith, Erin (13 March 2014). "Ayah Bdeir, CEO of littleBits, on the real reason for the hardware renaissance". Fortune. Fortune. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  24. ^ "Open Source Hardware Association/About". Open Source Hardware Association. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  25. ^ Torrone, Phil. "Open Hardware definition". Feb 2011
  26. ^ "Open Hardware License"
  27. ^ "Ayah Bdeir". EyeO+. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  28. ^ Ko, Hanae. "Where I Work: Ayah Bdeir". Art Asia Pacific. July 2009. Issue 64.
  29. ^ Kennedy, Randy. "Art Made at the Speed of the Internet: Don't Say 'Geek'; Say 'Collaborator'" . 18 April 2010. New York Times

External linksEdit