Smart Home Controller
The innovative people over at Family of the Arts came up with the concept of a cube that will control your smart home by using simple tangible gestures.
Each of Cube’s touch-sensitive faces controls a different part of the home — lighting, heating and cooling, music and media, and so on. Pixelated black-and-white icons glow on each of the facets, and whichever one is on top is currently active. When the music face is up, for instance, giving Cube a firm shake changes the song, while turning it like a knob changes the volume. Flip it to show the lighting face, and that same knob-like gesture dims the lights.
With Bluetooth proximity sensors added to light switches and wall outlets, Cube can be aware of which room it’s in and limit its commands to nearby devices accordingly. As you carry it around the house, you’ll always have control over the parts of the home that matter at the moment, while leaving the rest undisturbed.
Cube is an attractive alternative to app-based controls — and it leaves your smartphone free to do other things. Unfortunately, so far it’s only a concept. But Family of the Arts are actively seeking a partner among the established smart home players in hopes of bringing Cube to market. I can’t imagine it being too long before this device will come to market and change the way smart home users control their house.
Another example where cubes are being used in regards to tangible interfaces can be seen in the use of CubeSensors. CubeSensors are little cubes that are used to understand how your home or office is affecting your health, comfort and productivity. Inside the cube is a range of sensors which monitor external factors and give advice to improve your relaxation, productivity or, in conjunction with a Jawbone or Fitbit tracker, sleep quality.
The wireless CubeSensors themselves are stylish and unobtrusive little cubes which can be deployed in most rooms without worrying about disrupting the decor. Once in place they use an array of sensors to monitor aspects of the environment including air quality, temperature, humidity, temperature, noise, light and pressure. Feedback is given based on what you want to do in that room, either with a shake-prompted glowing light, or in more detail via a web app.
CubeSensors a painless operation which simply involves plugging everything in and going to the set-up website. In the box you’ll find a micro USB power adapter, a base unit which connects to your router via ethernet cable, along with the CubeSensors and micro USB charging cables (the CubeSensors can last a month on a single charge).
Like i mentioned above the Cubesensors can be used in conjunction with devices like a Fitbit or Jawbone. Which will allow you track your sleep and see when you woke up, thanks the CubeSensors you can find out why you woke up because of the feed back they are monitoring. The little devices can go unnoticed and you don’t have to keep the app open to check if your environment is right for you. Simply shake or tap to see the feedback in a colour form shine through the cube. Blue means everything is fine, while red means you need to check the app to see what’s wrong.
Not only does it let you know of specific readings but the app provides real world actionable advice in a “Ways to Feel Better” section. This could tell you to “Open the windows as soon as possible” or “You might be comfortable with extra heating”.
Tangible Musical Interface
The Reactable is an innovative electronic musical instrument that uses a tangible interface and shapes to manipulate and add sounds. Reactable uses a tangible interface where the player controls the system by manipulating real objects (cubes and other shaped blocks). By putting these objects on the Reactable surface, turning them or connecting them to each other, players can combine different elements like synthesisers, effects, samples and control elements in order to create a unique composition. The resulting sonic flows are represented graphically on the table surface, always showing the real waveforms that travel from one object to the other, turning music into something visible and tangible.
Reactable have also created an iPad app that allows virtually anyone learn to play. This new instrument is called Rotor and can be played without using the tangible shapes. But you can purchase the Rotor controllers separately to interact with it tangibly.