B-Squares: Lego for electronics


May 12, 2011

B-Squares are flat electronic modules that can be joined together in different configurations, to create different devices (Photos: Octo23 Technologies)

B-Squares are flat electronic modules that can be joined together in different configurations, to create different devices (Photos: Octo23 Technologies)

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Connecting blocks are one of the all-time greatest types of toys. Unfortunately, when we grow up, many of us seem to think that it's silly to make stuff just for the sake of making it – we still enjoy putting things together, but they have to be functional. That's where B-Squares come in. The flat electronic modules serve a variety of functions, and can form a variety of devices when connected in different combinations.

B-Squares were created by engineers Jordan McRae and Shawn Frayne.

The squares can be joined side-to-side, top-to-bottom, or stacked, staying in place and transmitting electrical signals to one another via magnetic contacts at each corner. Presently, there are six different types of squares. These include a Solar-Square, that incorporates a 0.25-watt polycrystalline solar cell that can stick to windows; a Battery-Square that contains three AAA rechargeable NiMH batteries; a three-bulb multi-color LED-Square; an iPhone-Square, with an iPhone/iPod dock, USB port and stereo outputs; an Arduino-Square, that contains an Arduino micro-computer; and, a Proto-Square that consists of a perfboard area upon which electronically-gifted users can create their own type of square.

Several Solar-Squares can be connected in parallel to increase their total current, or in series to increase their voltage. In order to change the overall circuit of a B-Squares array, one square can simply be rotated – the LED-Square, for instance, will display different colors depending on its rotation.

While users are encouraged to get creative, there are B-Square "recipes" that show people how to combine the squares to create different devices. These include a solar-powered clock (utilizing the Arduino's LCD screen), iPhone charger, and battery charger. An array of the Solar-Squares can also simply be placed in a window, where they will provide power to an external device through a wire connection. Additionally, a Speaker-Square is in the works, which could be combined with an iPhone-Square and some Solar-Squares (or a Battery-Square) to create a mini sound system.

B-Squares have not yet reached production, although interested parties can reserve them now, in return for product development pledges.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Hmm, exposed electrical contacts. Don\'t think that\'s the best idea for public market even if the voltage & amps are low. Nifty concept idea though.

Colter Cederlof

It is one of the best site to know the latest tecnology .

Chowdhury Abbas

What\'s old is new again... I played with these Electronic Blocks back in the 70s:

You get kits to build things via components encapsulated in a plastic block that has metal magnetic contacts where the component leads are attached and a ground plate that everything sits on with the schematic symbol on the top of the block. It was fun to put circuits together just by clicking together plastic blocks on a metal tray...

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