Sphero acquires Littlebits, consolidating the educational tech landscape

A joining up of two of the biggest players in the STEAM space could point to future robots.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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Scott Stein

Littlebits' snap-in blocks look like a good match for where Sphero is heading in robotics.


Your future school and home STEAM toy selection has compressed: odds are, it'll be made by Sphero. Two of the biggest players in the educational electronics space are merging. Sphero has acquired Littlebits, with plans to possibly move into new product territories, the company announced this morning.

Littlebits, founded in 2011, sells a number of connected and programmable kits using snap-together blocks to make circuits. Littlebits puts together school and home STEAM kits, including ones that make Marvel superhero arms and Star Wars robots.

According to Sphero's press release, Littlebits' founder and CEO, Ayah Bdeir, is "moving on from littleBits to pursue her next adventure." Sphero's CEO, Paul Berberian, will take over Littlebits, while Sphero "plans to accelerate international growth and acquire other products and companies to further expand its portfolio of STEAM products and tools."

Sphero has been pushing further into the school STEAM space, acquiring the company Specdrums last year. While Sphero does still make plenty of robot balls, the company's releasing an expandable robot rover kit, RVR, this fall which works with add-on electronics including a Raspberry Pi. Littlebits could end up being exactly the modular electronics that could fold into where Sphero is already headed.

The block-like Littlebits modules could also allow Sphero to compete against the modular robotics made by Lego and the classroom-focused company Lego Education, which launched a new educational robotics kit earlier this year.