Ninja Block, part of the home automation kit (via NinjaBlocks)
The plethora of open-source hardware and software devices now available for purchase provides designers, software developers, and engineers of all sorts flexibility in developing their project builds. With coding environments and user interfaces that make creating your own ‘things’ much simpler, open-source DIY builds are drawing interest from even the most novice of developers. Ninja Blocks, following a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding run, is a company that sets out to make home automation and remote sensing devices a breeze to set-up with their redesigned cloud-based Ninja Blocks Kit.
Initially advertised as a kit that makes remote sensor monitoring simple, Ninja Blocks now aim to make home automation and Internet of Things app development just as easily hackable. At the heart of a Ninja Block lay a BeagleBone daughter board with an Arduino compatible Atmega328 microcontroller. Three RGB LEDs allow users to customize the eyes on the device’s Ninja logo and a 433MHz transceiver provides wireless communication to attached sensors, actuators, and the cloud.
Ninja Shield, the BeagleBone daughter board. Containing a Arduino compatability with a ATmega328 microcontroller (via NinjaBlocks)
The Ninja Cloud is a web-based app service that gives way for communication between the Ninja Block and any attached devices without the need to write any code. In addition to the Ninja Block’s built in accelerometer and thermometer, supplemental sensors allow users to set specific triggered actions according to changes in the block’s immediate environment. With support for Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Google Docs, SMS and Voice, and Xbox Live - a wide range of actions can be set to either document or alert users of changes.
Since home automation systems has become one of the Ninja Block’s major selling points, one can imagine integrating their devices into their home security system. For example, using a Door/Window contact sensor in conjunction with the Ninja Cloud tools, users can alert themselves about “unexpected company” while away from home by sending themselves a tweet. A mobile app also extends the reach of remote monitoring and control of Ninja’s sensors/actuators anywhere you go - i.e., remotely turning home electronic devices on/off or adjusting your home thermostat.
With its easy-to-use web app development kit, the Ninja Block’s usage is completely open to the imagination of whomever uses it. The current Ninja Blocks production run, currently hovering just above 250 remaining units, is available for purchase online for $199USD. The kit will get those interested one of each of the following: a Ninja Block, motion sensor, door/window contact sensor, wireless button, temperature and humidity sensor, USB Wi-Fi module, Ethernet cable, and 5V3A DC power supply.
Get to hacking.
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