Ninja Sphere

Here is something new that I came across today, very interesting…

Ninja Sphere

I am backing this but remain unsure if I’m going to stick with it. I really like the idea of getting some useful features out of the hub, though I’m not sure how useful that will actually be.

I guess I see the following features beyond ST:

  1. Location of BLE tagged items and phones
  2. Gesture control
  3. Feedback/reporting using the LEDs in the hubs

I can’t imagine too many uses for gesture controls, and I wonder how useful the LEDs can actually be. I also wonder if my wife would be annoyed by the hubs sitting around the house. But I would really like to add sensing of locations to my system.

The main drawback is that it doesn’t support Z-wave, which I understand because it’s a nightmare from an international distribution perspective–but it’s still a big hole given all of the Z-wave devices I have. It also doesn’t exist yet, and probably would realistically ship near the end of 2014 (this may still beat ST to Australia, though this matters less to me since I’m in the US). So I’m wondering how realistic it is to have either ST or NS act as the main hub, with the other taking care of the Z-wave or BLE end of things.

Ninja Sphere is definitely a step up in terms of design aesthetics and functionality comparing to the original Ninja Blocks, but it’s still in the same hobbyist/tinkerer domain as SmartThings, Vera, Iris and others. They all “nice tries” in home automation field, but none of the companies behind them have enough resources to become a dominant player and bring their product to the masses. There was once hope with Google’s @Home initiative, but even mighty Google seems to all but give up on home automation.

The BLE trilateration looks very very interesting - that’s something I’d really love to play with. Things that had the ability to know where there were would open up a lot of possibilities for self positioning objects (like furniture). It would also make for an incredible presence sensor 2.0, since it would eliminate the need for motion detectors and allow you to do things like, “when this person is in this room, then do x”. To fit in the existing SmartThings model, I wonder if you could abstract it down to a concept of definable zones that you could subscribe to.