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Adafruit's new online merit badge system looks to bring the Scouts to version 2.0

A new initiative from Adafruit Industries is attempting to modernize merit badges, with new skill categories and online profiles.

Adafruit badges
Adafruit badges

You may earn badges from checking in on FourSquare, but nothing beats the good, hard work involved in earning a Boy or Girl Scouts merit badge — and now Adafruit Industries is looking to modernize the system with digital badges and maker-style categories. The company just launched a beta for its idea, which lets you earn digital badges — though you can also purchase physical ones for a few dollars each — that are displayed on an online profile. There's also an online leaderboard were kids can compete to earn the most skills and the team is working on an API so that other developers can add their own badges and projects. It's not just the badges that are different though, as the skills include things like lasers, robotics, and biohacking. Adafruit is hoping to eventually get the Girl and Boy Scouts on board, with creative director Phillip Torrone saying "if the Girl Scouts want to use the badges we've designed to modern-up their merit badge offerings, we'll work with them to make it happen."