The microbot designed to push all your buttons
The mechanical button or switch is that most simple of user interfaces. So simple that just about every electrical device in the home, from lights to coffee machines, will have one. With the goal of letting these legacy devices join the home automation bandwagon, South Korean startup Naran has come up with Microbot Push – a wireless robotic "finger" designed to operate standard buttons and switches.
According to Naran, the Microbot Push allows users to integrate conventional, non-smart devices into the Internet of Things (IoT). The device is basically a pair of small boxes consisting of the push body (26.6 x 26.6 x 28 mm) and the Micro-USB-charged battery pack (26.6 x 15.2 x 35 mm), which attach to a surface next to a button or switch using foam tape. Despite this seemingly flimsy anchor, the company says that the microbot can apply 1 kg (2.2 lb) of force, which is enough to flip just about any switch you can throw at it.
In addition to the actuator, the Push also has built-in sensors to detect light, motion, and sound. There's also Bluetooth connectivity to allow it to network with a small, personal server computer called a Prota, which packs an ARMv7 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, up to 2 GB RAM, 8 GB built-in flash storage and runs the company's proprietary Prota OS Agatha. Prota also boasts built in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi so you can control a Push from anywhere there's an internet connection.
The Prota automatically detects and pairs with any nearby microbots and runs user-defined actions based on if this then that logic, that trigger the Push microbots to activate a button when certain conditions are met, such as time of day, lighting conditions, or when movement is detected.
The Push can be controlled either through these programs, called "stories," or directly with the smartphone app used for writing the programs, both of which the company emphasizes require no coding knowledge. According to Naran, the Push microbots allow users to carry out any number of tasks automatically, such as turning lights on and off while away, switching on a coffeemaker when the morning alarm sounds, or activating a desktop computer when someone comes in the door.
Naran says that the Microbot Push is the first in a line of microbots being developed by the company. Others will include the Microbot Twist for twisting knobs, an infrared control station known as the IR bridge, the Microbot Sense multi-sensor station, the Microbot View wireless camera, and the Microbot Scan wireless fingerprint reader.
The Prota is slated to be available later this year, while the Microbot Push will be the subject of a crowdfunding campaign that is set to begin this November, with the first units scheduled to roll out to backers next April if all goes to plan.
The video below introduces the Microbot Push.