While smartphones are awesome little computers, one of the things that really makes them useful is their built-in sensors - many apps are made possible via a phone's accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, microphone, camera, or some combination of the bunch. The thing is, though, all of those sensors are stuck in the smartphone. What if you want to use your phone to monitor another device? Well, that's where NODE comes in. The proposed gadget could be placed on or near a device, and would wirelessly relay data from multiple onboard sensors, via Bluetooth.

NODE is being developed by Tennessee-based Variable Technologies CEO George Yu, who has previously produced items for Homeland Security and NASA.

A little bigger than a C-cell battery, the basic module's sensors include a 3-axis accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope, with output devices consisting of an audio buzzer and two dimmable blue LEDs. It also has 2 MB of memory, and a micro-USB port for performing firmware updates, and for charging its lithium-polymer battery. That battery is said to provide 12 to 14 hours of operating time, with continuous Bluetooth data transmission and reception - a linked smartphone or computer can be reached at a distance of up to 50 meters (164 feet).

Importantly, NODE also has module ports at either end, to accommodate a host of other interchangeable sensors that Yu has in the works. These include the Oxa module, that serves as a sensor for multiple gases; the Clima module, that measures barometric pressure, wind speed, temperature, and humidity; and, the 8-LED Luma module, that provides flashlight-type illumination in user-specified intensities or flashing patterns.

Farther down the road, he would like to offer modules such as infrared thermometers, infrared transceivers, radiation detectors, and chemical sensors. The Arduino-compatible firmware, source code and API (application programming interface) are all open-source, so outside parties can create sensors and functions for use with the product.

It all sounds very cool and gadgety, but what would the average person actually do with the device? Yu suggests that people could use it for notifying them when their clothes dryer has finished a cycle, obtaining wind chill figures when taking the kids outside, finding their elevation or receiving weather warnings while hiking in the mountains, judging building efficiency or performing home inspections, or as a motion-sensitive game controller. Really, though, there are all sorts of potential applications.

Yu is currently raising funds for product development on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$175 will get you a single iPhone or Android-compatible NODE, when and if they reach production.

More information is available in his pitch video, below.

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