I am Alicia Gibb, the founder of Lunchbox Electronics. I’m also the inventor of Build Upons: World’s Tiniest Light Up Bricks to build upon your existing LEGO® creations. Light up your robot, house, or spaceship! We currently have a Kickstarter campaign to help us kick start our manufacturing costs – back us!
I have been lighting up bricks since grad school. I was at Pratt Institute doing research related to information and physical computing. I started working on a 256 LED grid with a classmate as a way to convey instructions on a physical layer rather than paper instructions. The grid would light up as to where to put the next brick. Having instructions in the pieces you were putting together rather than in an instruction book seemed like the next step in information retrieval when building physical objects.
I presented a similar concept in 2013 at the Sketching in Hardware conference at Xerox Parc. I wanted to see if this concept could be manufactured, so I bought a 3D printer and set to work building bricks that had LEDs inside them for the presentation. Making these bricks by hand was really difficult and tedious, so I began looking into mass manufacturing. After the conference, I took the product in a different direction, rather than making the lights about instruction, I thought kids would find it more interesting to embed lights in their designs.
I decided I needed to start a company to fund my R&D habits and enable me to mass manufacture products – enter Lunchbox Electronics. Lunchbox Electronics creates innovative new products with imagination and the passion for open source hardware. I named it Lunchbox Electronics with the vision of all projects being small enough to fit in a lunchbox and that projects would take a “lunch hour” to complete. I rented a space at The Studio where I met Jason Brownstein, a mechanical engineer who I hired to manage the injection molding process.
The Build Upons, like the other items I sell on Lunchbox Electronics, will be Open Source Hardware once we’re done with the manufacturing process, so that others may learn from, make derivatives, or remanufacture and resell the bricks. I’ve been dedicated to Open Source Hardware since 2008. I started the Open Source Hardware Association, co-founded the Open Hardware Summit, and wrote the book Building Open Source Hardware.
I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades… even though I have two masters :). Since I have no formal engineering background, I had to teach myself electronics and depend on friends at NYCResistor, a hackerspace in Brooklyn. I now teach physical computing within the ATLAS Institute in the Engineering Dept at CU Boulder, and I am the director of a hackerspace called the Blow Things Up Lab.