Cubelets are magnetic blocks that can be snapped together to make an endless variety of robots with no programming and no wires. You can build robots that drive around on a tabletop, respond to light, sound, and temperature, and have surprisingly lifelike behavior. But instead of programming that behavior, you snap the cubelets together and watch the behavior emerge like with a flock of birds or a swarm of bees.
Kits drive innovation. When a kit sells well, suddenly there are people in every town building newfangled TV sets (remember Heathkit? They’re back!) or aerial Arduino robots (check out DIY Drones). Like seeds in the wind, those kits switch on thousands of new makers, who become a community of innovators, excited and hungry for more advanced kits and products, in an upward spiral.
The Ultimate Kit Guide also includes an essay by MIT research fellow Michael Schrage on how kits drive technological innovation — and have since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Here’s Michael reading an excerpt from this revolution-minded essay, for your podcast-listening enjoyment. And, of course, if you’re looking for gift ideas this holiday season, kits are a great alternative that offers engagement, skill-building, and pride instead of passive consumerism.