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SAM Labs: IoT for kids (…and adults too)

We’ve been fans of the folk over at SAM Labs for some time now (we even bought ourselves the ‘Science Museum Inventor Kit’ for Christmas :). Their SAM kits (small, battery powered building blocks that talk to each other wirelessly via Bluetooth) allow anyone to learn about electronics and build their own smart inventions.

A London based startup founded by a group of Imperial College graduates, SAM Labs raised over £125,000 in a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign back in 2014, attracting 817 investors and overfunding its original £50,000 target. They’ve since gone from strength to strength, recently raising £3.2M from a group of investors led by Imperial Innovations which will allow them to further develop the product and expand the reach of the SAM kits.

The SAM Labs wireless construction kits are encouraging young people to take an interest in technology and engineering, which is an issue we feel very passionately about. We have always championed UK innovation, particularly in STEM, and look forward to seeing how these products will enable young people to explore real­ world applications. – Robert Bahns, director technology venture at Imperial Innovations

More than 1,000 schools are already using the SAM IoT learning kits as part of their learning or after-school programs. With the new funding, the company can now set its sights in a more international context, and start marketing and selling to schools around the world.

It’s great to see them doing so well. But SAM isn’t just for kids – the SAM kits and modules allow developers and designers to quickly prototype their ideas for new apps for smart homes, wearable tech, or even artistic projects.

I wanted to find a way to make it fun for people to learn circuitry and coding. A human centered model that would be easy to use and which taught you while you worked with it. This gave birth to SAM, the idea of giving designers and creative people the powers of engineers. We hope to be a the start of a democratic revolution for the Internet of Things so that children can learn and that impactful, highly technologically innovative projects can be undertaken by designers who do not necessarily have the luxury of having been technically trained as engineers. Joachim Horn, Founder

IoT education and creativity with SAM Labs
SAM make it simple to connect their building blocks in the SAM App

There are 6 SAM kits available, as well as individual building blocks. The blocks include buttons, buzzers, sliders, tilt sensors, light sensors, DC motors and more (there are currently 15 to choose from). If you prefer you can buy them as part of the aforementioned kits – these range from the basic ‘explore’ kit with 3 wireless blocks up to the ‘pro’ and ‘family’ kits with 12 and 24 blocks respectively, the latter being best for schools and workshops. And then there’s the SAM App which brings together the wireless blocks simply by connecting the dots.

Browse the SAM Labs shop >

Over on the SAM website you can join in with the SAM Community and share your creations and inventions. With projects ranging from a Lego IP camera to a treasure chest alarm and drum machine, you can see just how creative you can be. The video below shows how Emily Skinner, a designer specialising in interactive sensory design, used SAM blocks to add interactivity to her modular wall covering system inviting her audience to engage directly with the piece. Just one example of how the technology is being applied in the creative world, and highlighting the product’s unique diversity.

We predict great things for SAM Labs and well deserved too. To find out more from the founder himself, check out Joachim Horn’s TED talk below.

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