Tag Archives: music

17 Ways to unleash the power of littleBits at TEDActive 2014

The best things come in small packages. And littleBits is one of them.

The brainchild of TED Fellow Ayah Bdeir, littleBits is an open source library of electronics that easily snap together with magnets for hours of prototyping, learning and fun. Each tiny circuit-board has a simple, unique function: light, sound, sensors, buttons, thresholds, pulse or motors. When snapped together, the modules create larger circuits and complex interactions. The best part? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist.

So, TEDActivators, keep an eye out for the Synth Kits – a kit that transforms music lovers into music makers – and plenty of Bits from the Exploration Kits on-site. And keep your ears open for Ayah Bdeir’s TED Talk on Monday, March 17.

Here are 17 out-of-this-world projects from the Little Bits community to inspire you to collaborate, explore, create and make some sweet sounds:

  1. What blinks, bleeps, bloops and blurgs? This sound machine.

2. Pizza delivery never sounded so good. Listen to the pizza box phonograph.

3. Hands-free video with the Go Pro Revolver.

4. This Rube-Goldberg machine – a crazy way to turn off the lights.

5. We applaud the sound-activated bubble maker

6. For the mad scientist: how to build a magnetic stirrer.

7. Can plants grow in the red or blue light? This experiment explores.

8. Ping pong + air hockey = Airball?

9. All you need is paper and littleBits for the Simple Line Follower.

10. Snacky Snacky Hippos is Hungry Hungry Hippos for two.

11. See things from a bee’s perspective.

12. Sugru dispenser.

13. Rocking out with the Build-It Noise Band.

14. Modern art with C. Robot and Spiralbot.

15. Lunchtime with the Shanghai Sandwich Maker.

16. Music to my ears: NullsleepUnikorg and Synth Kit 4 Track.

17. Create the soundtrack of floating in space. 

Fun fact: The inimitable Reggie Watts and Ayah worked together on the Synth Kit product ideation. Watch the collaboration in action:

Please contact info@littlebits.cc for any general inquiries and littleBits@thehatchagency.com for press/PR questions.

TEDActive on the road: Edinburgh, Scotland


Our awesome hosts Kelly Stoetzel and Rives were in Edinburgh, Scotland last week for TEDGlobal 2013 and they brought the TEDActive spirit with them. On Thursday night, they hosted a new, experimental late-night event with a talk-show twist called “Inside the Active Studio” where they invited standout speakers and performers to come on the stage for encore acts and intimate interviews. In true TEDActive tradition, there was lots of comedy, cocktails and, of course, beanbags.

The event came together quickly and seamlessly during the week. “It was a bit of a free-for-all. We pulled people after they killed it on the [TEDGlobal] stage and asked them to get involved over the last few days. They were all pretty game to do it,” said Kelly.

Here are the top six highlights of “Inside the Active Studio”:

1.  When in Scotland … you should have a Scottish accent contest. Who won the Active Studio one? It was Hetain Patel, who performed a brilliant art piece, earlier that week on the TEDGlobal stage, in which he challenged our notions of identity and language.

2. Uri Alon, who gave a TEDGlobal talk about scientific research and improv, came on stage with his red guitar and sang songs about working on Sundays at the lab and about a letter from a scientific journal rejecting his paper.

3. Mid-event, audience and speakers enthusiastically sang parts of “Man in the Mirror” and “Build me up, Buttercup.”

4. Russell Foster, neuroscientist and sleep expert, said a nap is only useful as long as it’s not longer than 20 minutes. If you go over that amount, you’ll go into deep sleep and the recovery from that will counteract all of the benefits.

5. In Carin Bondar‘s TEDGlobal 2013 talk, she spoke about the paper nautilus, a creature with a hectocotylus — a detachable penis that swims over to the female and attaches itself to her nether regions, providing sperm. A question on the minds of many in the audience: Does it come back? Her answer was no. “But, it does grow back!” she remarked optimistically.

6. We learned that Lissie — the singer who shook up the TEDGlobal stage and came back to rock out at Active Studio — whips out “Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry when it’s her turn at the karaoke machine.







Ear Candy: A playlist to activate your week

From right: Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Tom Morrello, Jill Sobule, perform at TEDActive 2011
From right: St. Vincent, Tom Morrello, and Jill Sobule perform at TEDActive 2011

Over the years, we’ve had many talented musical superstars join our TEDActive family. We’ve compiled our favorite music videos by TEDActivators to feed your aural fixation and get you back in the TEDActive spirit — move, shake and do! Don’t have time to watch the videos? We have an audio only playlist at the bottom of this blog post.

Lucky Dragons “Givers”


St. Vincent jammed at TED2011. See her also make an appearance (further down) in  “Wonder,” a crowd-sourced music project from TEDActive 2011.


Singer Jill Sobule and director Hiro Murai collaborated with the John Lennon Educational Bus Tour to create and produce TEDActive 2011’s theme song about rediscovering wonder.


Daedalus is a founding DJ of internet radio station Dublab. Daedalus and other DJs from Dublab were present at past TEDActives to spin beats and create the perfect ambiance for creating ideas. 


LA-based Las Cafeteras played on the final evening at La Quinta, Palm Springs at TEDActive 2012. “La Bamba Rebelde” will get you dancing, just like attendees were:


Sara Watkins played the fiddle and sang in Taco Pants, the TEDActive 2010 band made up of Jill Sobule, John Doe, Stuart Johnson, and Dave Way. Sara’s lovely original song “Take Up Your Spade”:


Guitar-master and ex member of Rage of the Machine Tom Morello shredded on the TEDActive 2011 stage. An ode to human freedom, here is “Road I must travel”:


Wendy Melvoin, of Wendy & Lisa (and former bandmate of Prince), performed at the Desert Party at TEDActive  2011.


In four days at TEDActive 2010, the John Lennon Educational Tour BusJill Sobule, John Doe, Sara Watkins, Stuart Johnson, Don Was, Dave Way and Krish Sharma collaborated to create this music video. Data artist Aaron Koblin directed the video, using drawings made by attendees on ideas about what the world needs now.

An audio playlist for your ears only:

Need more to listen to?

For TEDActive 2010, 2011 and 2012, Dublab DJs frosty and Turquoise Wisdom created “Entry Mixes,” sonic explorations of the TED conference themes. Attendees could get their heads in the right state of mind. Check out these playlists:

TEDActive 2010 Entry Mix: “Timeless Gems Worth Spreading”

TEDActive 2011 Entry Mix: “Rediscovery of Wonder”

TEDActive 2012 Entry Mix: “Full Spectrum”