Project Dates: 2011-2016

Augmented Reality STEM Learning

LightUp is an augmented learning platform for electronics that helps children explore engineering and electronics by foregrounding fundamental concepts and backgrounding the extraneous intricacies of circuit construction.

The physical kit consists of electronic components (e.g. wire, bulb, motor, microcontroller) mounted on blocks that connect to each other magnetically to form circuits. LightUp provides an “informational lens” through a mobile app that recognizes the components in a photographed circuit and augments the image with visualizations of otherwise invisible circuit behavior.

At IDC ‘13, the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, the LightUp team published study findings demonstrating the experiential learning made possible by augmenting an intuitive circuit-building platform with information that allows children to learn skills that will help them develop engineering skills and agency.


Joshua Chan and Tarun Pondicherry began developing their LightUp prototype kit at the TLTLab in 2012. While Chan and Pondicherry had each taken Paulo Blikstein’s Beyond Bits & Atoms course in separate years, Blikstein introduced the two future co-founders after noticing a similarity between their final projects for the course.

After over a year of prototyping and pilot testing in the TLTLab, LightUp joined Shenzhen-based hardware technology accelerator HAXLR8R to lay the groundwork for product development and manufacturing. Following the accelerator program, LightUp secured funding through an NSF SBIR grant in partnership with the Blikstein TLTLab and a successful Kickstarter campaign and began producing their Tesla and Edison hardware kits.

While the Tesla and Edison Kits have since been discontinued, LightUp continues their work in developing augmented reality educational labs.


Chan, J.*, Pondicherry, T.*, & Blikstein, P. (2013). LightUp: An augmented, learning platform for electronics. In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children – IDC’13 (pp. 491-494). New York, NY, USA: ACM. [PDF] 

Asgar, Z.*, Liu, C.*, Chan, J.*, & Blikstein, P. (2011). LightUp: A low-cost, multi-age toolkit for learning and prototyping electronics. In Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference for Interaction Design and Children – IDC’11 (pp. 225-226). Ann Arbor, Michigan. [PDF]

Team Members

Joshua Chan
Tarun Pondicherry
Paulo Blikstein


NSF, SBIR Phase I Award: ‘LightUp Engine: A platform for augmented learning on mobile devices’.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact Paulo Blikstein (