Next Big Thing – modular gadgets

Make-your-own-gadget starter packs just got real

Isn't flat-packed furniture fiddly enough?

True, but with Ikea you can only make one piece of furniture. With hardware toolkits and software support from Microsoft's .NET Gadgeteer, which launched this week, you can in theory build any electronic device your little heart desires, from retro gaming machines to flipbook makers.

Like Lego with wires?

Kind of. Developers and electronics addicts will be able to buy starter kits and extra components compatible with the .NET Gadgeteer system. The first starter pack is the GHI FEZ Spider Starter Kit, available to pre-order now, which includes a mainboard, camera module, 2 LED modules, a joystick module and plenty of cables. The rest is down to the gadgeteers.

I'd prefer for it to remain a magical mystery

Leave the rest of us to play with .NET Gadgeteer then. If you're not keen on hours of soldering components, don't worry because Microsoft reckons everything is fully pluggable and no previous electronics knowledge is needed – even for the .NET Micro Framework, which lets you quickly write software code for your device. Now to roll up our sleeves and create our dream gadget.

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