Jewelbots is reinventing the classic charm bracelet as a Bluetooth-enabled wearable that will teach girls how to code.
Developers Sara Chipps, Brooke Moreland and Maria Paula Saba have noticed that there is an extreme lack of women in the STEM-related fields. And although research has shown that 75% of girls were interested in such disciplines, a vast majority are choosing not to pursue computer science. In order to help combat this downward trend, the team has designed a new product that they hope will introduce the future generation of female engineers to coding. Unlike other wearable gadgetry on the market today, which track steps, count calories and monitor heart rates, Jewelbots are programmable bracelets that enable its young users to personalize and build their own custom features.
Originally inspired by the popularity of Minecraft for the predominantly adolescent male crowd, the entrepreneurs wanted to establish a similar environment for girls that would also allow them to explore their creativity and write their own mods.
Makers begin with a simple IFTTT-like statements on an accompanying mobile app. Once they are ready to advance, girls can plug their device into a PC, and using the open source Arduino IDE, customize their bracelets to their liking with sample libraries on the startup’s website. For instance, they can program their jewelry to illuminate with every new Instagram follower, when they receive a text from mom, their favorite TV show is about to start, or even if there is a change in the weather forecast. However, the possibilities are only limited to the imagination of its wearer.
Beyond that, the bands help keep girls stay in touch with their friends. Connected through Bluetooth Low Energy, the bracelets create a mesh network that lets users communicate with other Jewelbots wearers nearby, even without a paired phone or Wi-Fi. The Jewelbots can blink, vibrate and light up to communicate in Morse code. In terms of hardware, each unit is packed with a BLE SoC, a vibration motor, four LEDs, a button and a battery which can be recharged via USB.
“The numbers of women in computer science have actually shrunk since the mid 80s. At the same time, engineering and tech jobs are growing like crazy,” Moreland explains. “We want to inspire a deep curiosity and lasting love for computers and programming. A love that these girls can take with them throughout their careers and lives.”
As a way to test their theory, the team launched “Take Your Daughter To Hack.” During these daylong, bi-coastal events, parents and daughters (sons, too) were given the chance to devise wearables using the highly-popular Arduino GEMMA (ATtiny85) as well as a HTML/CSS workshop using Tumblr to make fun and engaging projects together. Safe to say, they were a success!
While its prototypes are currently being finalized, the end product will make its debut at the tail-end of summer, with widespread delivery expected to get underway in March 2016. At that time, the bracelets will come in a variety of colors — including pink, green, lavender, red, garnet, blue, teal, gray and back — and will be just as fashionable as they are fun! Interested? Head over to Jewelbot’s official Kickstarter page, where the New York City-based startup is seeking $30,000.