Knocki taps into the Internet of Things
Canyou knock on your kitchen countertop to dim the lights, turn on your favoritemusic or send your partner a text message? You can if you have a "Knocki" stuckto it. Developed by Texas-based Swan Solutions, Knocki is a disc-shaped device that turns solid surfaces, such as walls, doors or tables, into remote control switches for internet-connected devices. All you have to do is knock.
Sticka Knocki on to a metal, granite, marble, drywall, wood or stone surface and it’llwork as long as it’s within range of a Wi-Fi signal. The Knocki can recognizeup to 10 unique patterns of knock and taps, and each knock pattern can beprogrammed to trigger specific actions through a companion app. For instance, knocktwice at a relaxed pace on your Knocki-enabled nightstand, and it could getyour coffee pot brewing. Three rapid-fire knocks on the same surface could beset to shuffle music. And if you really want a little pampering, you could evenorder pizza with a few taps, all while still in bed.
“It’s the first-to-market solution to add interactivity anywhere usingthe existing walls, furniture, doors, etc in our homes,” Jake Boshernitzan, one ofthe company’s co-founders, tells Gizmag. Instead of adding hubs and accessoriesto upgrade their own homes into smart homes, Boshernitzan brainstormed withco-founder Ohad Nezer to find a way to make existing objects in their homes smarterat low cost. They also wanted a solution that worked in an easy, natural way withoutthe hassle of buttons and switches. They eventually came up with Knocki.
Thedevice uses an accelerometer-based system to sense vibrational patterns on any surfaceand runs on ordinary AA batteries. Users need to tap out an activation knockbefore following it up with a knock pattern; this prevents random vibrationsfrom triggering actions. Once the sensor detects the initiating knock, it determineswhether the following knock pattern is intentional based on patent-pendingmethods. It then wakes up the Wi-Fi and sends the information to a server in thecloud to trigger the appropriate action. Since Knocki decodes surface vibrationusing non-acoustic motion algorithms, there’s no possibility, its creators say,of it accidentally deciphering music, clapping or other environmental sounds asknocks or taps.
Oncestuck to a surface, the range within which a Knocki detects knocks and taps dependson the structure’s material and its thickness. “We findthat wood tables, cabinets, etc allow for a range of approximately 6 feet (between the device and a knock or tap) withtypical tap/knock commands, but can exceed 10 feet in some conditions,” says Boshernitzan.While it has the same range on a drywall, it works as far as three to four feetroughly, on a stone or granite counter top. The device doesn’t have to be stuckon the visible side of anything either-it can placed on the hidden side oreven embedded into something.
MultipleKnockis can be configured to carry out different functions depending on thesurfaces they are attached to, through the companion app which manages them all. Since the Knocki uses Wi-Fi to control connected devices, itcan also work outdoors as long as the device being controlled is within range. The technology can be used for a huge array of tasks including remotemonitoring. For instance, you can activate security alarms or receive text message alerts if someone knocks on your doorwhen you aren’t at home.
“We hope to make smart technology more accessible from a costperspective, but also from a usability perspective,” Boshernitzan tells us. The device could, he says, liberateseniors and people with mobility impairments from having to interact with devicesthrough software interfaces or buttons. It could also be potentially used to streamline awide variety of user interactions. For instance, Knocki-enabled tables couldallow patrons at a restaurant to request a water refill or ask for their checksby simply tapping out different knock sequences.
Knocki will be launched laterthis year, but there’s no exact date as yet. The device can be pre-ordered for US$59 atthe company’s website.