Understanding electronics is tricky. Electricity is invisible, the components are cryptic, and the concepts are hard to grasp. That’s where LightUp comes in. This is an AR-based system for teaching electronics by allowing kids to build little projects and “see” what the components are doing using augmented reality.
The projects snap together with magnets and you can send juice through the circuit to light up LEDs and turn on buzzers. However, when you take a picture of the circuit with your phone, LightUp adds animated lines to show you what the electricity is doing. While it’s not particularly useful for simple circuits – there’s not much going on – it’s particularly cool in that it tells you when your diodes are aligned wrong or your transistors aren’t working.
For $99 you can get a mini kit that includes an Arduino micro-controller as well as variable resistors, light sensors, and LEDs. A $39 kit offers considerably fewer parts but can be used to make a “morse code buzzer, night light, dimmer switch, [or] lunch box alarm.” I personally, could use the lunch box alarm to keep the kids out of my jellybean container.
LightUp is already fully funded. The project has a few competitors, including LittleBits but the AR capabilities really sell this kit. Rather than focusing on blind experimentation, LightUp offers just a bit more in terms of STEM education.