OK, this is pretty cool.
The Naran “push” microbot is a small actuator (a robot finger) whichs let you automate pushing a button, so it’s excellent for retrofitting nonnetworked devices. For example, I have a small blender which has a start button that is very difficult for me to push (I am quadriparetic), and I have a push microbot on it so I can tell Alexa to start the blender. Other community members are using them on air-conditioners and pellet stoves and old fashioned door buzzers. Integration with SmartThings requires the Naran prota bridge device and is through IFTTT. It’s a fairly expensive solution ($89 for the bridge and $49 for each microbot) but it does let you do some things that are otherwise quite difficult to solve.
And here’s their sample use case, which is with an expensive coffeemaker. One other advantage of the microbot system is you won’t void the warranty on the device that you are retrofitting.
Anyway, that’s what’s available now. But Naran has now announced their second generation, due to start shipping soon, and they’re adding two new interesting features.
First, each of the second generation microbots has Beacon capability, which means you can have automations trigger as you pass by, assuming you’re carrying your phone.
Second, these can optionally be secure beacons, which means they will only trigger if you unlock your phone with your fingerprint. (I’m pretty sure this only works on Apple devices.) this is a really nice feature for things like door buzzers, because it means the door only unlocks when you want it to, but it’s just one touch on your phone.
We’ll have to wait-and-see how this actually works once it’s delivered, but naran is a South Korean company with very good engineering credentials, and so far they’ve delivered everything they’ve promised. Like many engineering focused companies, they tend to under promise and over-deliver on the hardware side, but have a clunky UI which takes a few iterations to smooth out.
I would personally wait to order it until it’s available at Amazon, which should be towards the end of June. But if you want to pre-order, you can. As I said, the company has generally met its deadlines in the past.
The addition of Beacon capability is going to add some really interesting home automation options to this device. Just remember that like other RF protocols, beacons are detectable through walls, so unlike a motion detector, there isn’t really a “room” concept. But definitely a “zone” detection capability. And The detection range is customizable, so you can make it quite small if you want to. You do have to be carrying your phone to be detected, though.