B-Squares, a small gadget idea with big possibilities. Designed by MIT grads Jordan McRae and Shawn Frayne this is the kind of idea that feels kind of world changing. At it’s heart the B-Square system consists of a number of different types of building blocks – Squares – that can snap together to form different gadgets. Currently 6 Squares have been designed and prototyped, Solar, LED display, Battery (3 AAA), iPhone doc and a processor square called the Proto Square. A sound square is also in the works. Described as a 3D modular electronics system different Squares can are snapped together to form simple gadgets; iPhone solar charger, alarm clock, lamp, portable power. Truly brilliant though is the fact that as more Squares are developed and released new possibilities open up. The duo plans on releasing the Sound Square , an iPhone playback doc in the not so distant future.
All of the squares are a flat square panel with magnetic corners allowing the various squares to snap together. The magnet corners also do double duty as a point of contact for power and communications between the Squares, eliminating the need for plugs and connectors. The demonstration video on Kickstarter shows a solar array powering a large wall clock, charger arrays iPhone radio and many other ingenious combinations, its a must watch video.
The squares can cleverly be assembled into 3D shapes or arrays so that a cube would allow 6 Squares to snap together in a small space. The solar panels can be attached to windows with clever suction cups and with multiple solar squares working together iPods can be charged and power provided to any square connected to the group or wired of to external devices like wall clocks. Many simple recipes have already been demonstrated, stacking a number of the battery squares with an LED square on top creates a simple lamp By far the coolest array demonstrated so far is the iPhone Radio, this array uses all of the types of square to create a solar powered iPhone radio docking station.
The first Square designed was the Solar Panel power block and was the originating idea for this ultra cool system. The two lads were struggling to integrate solar power into various gadgets and decided to develop a simple universal interface. This was the seed that grew into the B-Square idea. On Kickstart they say “B-Squares, we now think we have a technology that can bring solar, energy storage, and interactivity into a range of projects, instantly. And we need your help to complete the journey.”
Prototyping squares are available in developer kits to allow those handy with a soldering iron to create their own squares.. In essence they are a blank template with everything you need to convert your idea into a real square. The developer community will become an important part of B-Squares evolution with ideas already flooding in from the projects backers on the Kickstart website, as well as the general public. With more advanced squares like touch screen interfaces, motion sensors, communications – radio tuning and wifi – squares, networking and maybe even locomotion squares we will be building fully fledge machines, simple robotics. The number of modules that are possible is limitless.
Central to controlling the B-Squares is the Proto Square. Every collection of Squares you put together requires a Proto Square to control the system. This is the square with all of the computing brains. Utilising an open-source electronics prototyping platform – Audrino – the Proto can be connected to a PC and re-programmed for each of the various tasks.
With an interesting twist and insight into how the internet is changing the world B-Square has turned to micro venture capital site Kickstart to get backing for the project, incredibly they were able to reach their funding goal of $25,000 in 5 days and have so far raised over $75,000 worth of pledges on Kickstarter. In anyones terms that is impressive.
B-Squares on the surface seems to be a simple idea with only simple potential, it’s not. Each of the squares on their own may be simple but by using computing power to control the array of squares complex functions are possible. Of course all these things are possibilities until the B-Squares system becomes a commercial product, which looks very likely judging by the interest, totally justified interest when you consider the originality and pure genius of this little idea.
B-Square Kickstarter Funding Page and Must Watch video.
Buddha’s Brother out…