An open-source ninja for the Internet of Things at home
The coming Internet of Things will enable wider adoption of smart home technology, which could equal more efficient energy use, better use of resources within the home, and more granular control over appliances and accessories, even when you're not around to monitor them.
A new project aims to mash all of those up together and add extra ninja, creating the next generation of environmental controls with a more natural way to interact with devices: gesture control.
The Ninja Sphere, from Ninja Blocks, is a stylish little system that can not only monitor and control a variety of devices within the home, but can also accurately locate them and alert users to unauthorized movement, or trigger actions from other connected devices.
"Your Ninja Sphere learns about you, and your environment. It uses data from sensors and actuators to build a model that can inform you if something is out of place.
It can monitor temperature, lighting, energy usage, you and your pets' presence, and anything else you connect to your sphere.
By using data from your devices, environment, and location your sphere is able to advise you intelligently and give you control only when you need it." - Ninja Sphere
Currently in the middle of a very successful Kickstarter campaign, the Ninja Sphere "Spheramid" includes WiFi and Bluetooth (classic and low energy) connectivity, ZigBee technology, a USB port, and gesture control, and it supports "a huge array of devices." And if the desired device isn't currently supported, the open source architecture of the system allows users to write their own drivers to connect them.
The Ninja Sphere can accurately locate tagged objects within the home through using the device and its gateways (such as the Spheramid) and Waypoints (additional nodes) using trilateration. In addition, Ninja Blocks claims that by using "sophisticated machine learning algorithms," a 3D model of the home can be built, accounting for walls and furniture that could interfere with the signals being fed to the Ninja Sphere.
While this may seem like just a tech toy for the early adopters, it could also be a powerful tool for making homes smarter and more efficient in their energy use:
"Just making small changes to how our high energy appliances are used can make a huge difference in our carbon footprint. The Ninja Sphere can already suggest some great energy saving ideas, but it’s what we’ll learn as it’s being used by real people that will really make a difference." - Daniel Friedman, Ninja Blocks CEO
The Early Bird Kickstarter awards are all taken, but you can still pick up a Ninja Sphere, Spheramid gateway, two Waypoints, and a smart power socket for a pledge of $249 AUD (~$227 USD).