WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Every single thing you do before getting home or after leaving? Or presently bug your significant other to do? Ninja Blocks does it.
By Eugene S. Robinson
Imagine your very own butler who handles all the everyday necessities: lights on, lights off, thawing tonight’s pot roast, letting you know the UPS driver is at the house, telling you the UPS package is in the house. Everything. Well, anal retentives now have 7.5 more reasons to cheer.
Ninja Blocks (one of the coolest names ever for a home-automation system) are small, cloud-enabled computers. Sprinkled throughout your house, they are good – no, great – for controlling the home front from wherever you log in. The system is based on a series of free apps and sensors that connect to actuators that connect to Ninja Blocks, all tied together in your computer, giving you the ability to manage your house or apartment from your smartphone – without any yelling.
You can turn anything in the house on and off that goes on and off. You can send photos or videos from all over your house to your dropbox, so that you can see all there is to see. Additional sensors can keep you posted on a whole raft of useful and useless household info, such as current, humidity, motion, distance, sound and light.
Controlled by? Your smartphone, iPad, laptop, office desktop, anything that connects to the Internet where you might have Twitter, Facebook or Dropbox accounts. Designed with the hacker in mind (it’s all open source) and using apps to scale it to whatever kind of home environment you want to monitor, Ninja Blocks are little bricks of neon cuteness.
The project was funded through a $103,000 Kickstarter campaign by Australian twentysomethings, and Ninja Blocks are now available to order at $199 for a limited run. That’s a little on the pricey side, but these are the thing to have if you’re a control fanatic. Case in point: the UNSW Solar Racing Team Sunswift, which just picked up Ninja Blocks to automate stuff, not in their houses but for their solar race car team. Folks with a dream and now the means to control it all.
Ninja Blocks aren’t the only stealthy operators entering homes. Startups ioBridge, Xively and Wovyn are also building platforms to connect things to your phone and computer. There are heavy-hitters like Nest and even the older hitters at Cisco who are building a network for the Internet of Things, capable of remote-connecting not just homes but cars, cardiac monitors, and even cattle (thanks to one Dutch startup). The future of being able to control your stuff from afar is not so much science fiction as it is now a science fact.