Ingenious B-Squares Let You Create Your Own Modular Electronic Devices (Video)

sparkfun b square image

Image via Video screengrab

Jordan McRae, a designer from Seattle, has come up with a very clever idea for making electronic devices. He's created tiny squares that have different functions, which can be linked up to one another via magnetic corners to create any number of different devices, from solar powered clocks, to iPhone docks with speakers!

McRae's project has formed impressively fast, starting with a sketch back in late January and ending with over $32,000 raised on Kickstarter to turn the concept into reality.

So just what are B-Squares? McRae writes:

B-Squares is a 3D modular electronics system with an emphasis on (but not limited to) solar power and expandable energy storage. Each Square has a magnetic contact on each of the corners which allows the Squares to easily snap together without wires. The magnetic contacts are also used to transmit electric signals between the Squares. This design allows users to quickly assemble Squares into arrays, with power flowing through the array via the corner contact, without wiring or soldering. Also, due to the use of multiple magnetic contacts on each Square, the overall circuit of the array can quickly be changed simply by rotating one of the Squares - for instance, the color of the LED Square can change with a flip or a rotation.

The team of McRae and buddy Shawn have come up with six different types of B-Squares that can be connected and used to create various electronics, including a solar square, a battery square, an LED square, an Arduino square (a microcomputer), an iPhone square (for connecting iPhone and iPods to the device), and a proto square that allows you the room to design this square however you please.

What I love most about this project is that it makes use of modularity and customization of electronics. So many of our gadgets are specialized, and you have to know how to hack and modify them to create something new. But with something like B-Squares, you can have just a handful of squares and keep rearranging them to build different gadgets that you might need. This sort of re-build-ability (yep, the concept works with words, too!) is something for which I have a real soft spot. Making thing customizable, hackable, and upgradable are all part of the future of greener gadgets, and B-Square is an interesting project that highlights these imperatives.

The project is doing very well on Kickstarter in raising funds to make B-Squares a real product, and you can click through to contribute (or preorder).

UPDATE: The Kickstarter campaign was funded (with far and away more funds than originally requested). However, you can still pre-order these through Seeed. Hopefully they'll be out soon!

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