Startmate company Ninja Blocks raised over $35,000 in under four days via the Kickstarter project to build a device that bridges the gap between your real life and the web.
The Ninja Blocks device is an open-source hardware device composed of an RGB LED; built-in temperature sensor; and accelerometer, which communicates with web apps via the Ninja Cloud, according to the description on the project page.
It was founded by Australian trio Madeleine Moore, Marcus Schappi and Mark Wotton, whose project was recently accepted into the 2012 Startmate mentor program.
The Ninja Block can be programmed for "if this then that" tasks, where an action is performed when the device's sensor is triggered. Sample triggers include "movement has been detected" or "a button has been pushed", and actions include "display text on an LCD display" and "send an SMS to my phone".
It will launch with support for Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Google Docs, SMS, voice calls and Xbox Live. The device features four expansion ports, and a USB port for additional sensors that can offer different triggers.
The company claims that the Ninja Cloud allows you to control your Ninja Blocks without writing a single line of code, and examples of tasks are taking a picture of your front yard and saving it to Dropbox when movement is detected or turning on a lamp in the hallway if your baby is crying.
The project was posted on crowdsourced fundraising site Kickstarter, where companies can raise money for a project by offering products and services in exchange for financial pledges.
The $24,000 target was reached in 72 hours, and currently 228 backers have pledged over $35,000, with 38 days to go.
Hardware devices are extremely unique innovations because they are easier to sell and much more valuable to investors. The idea leverages existing popular social-networking and web services and connects them to real life. It's backed by the Startmate program. The Kickstarter project has proven there is huge customer demand.
The device will have to provide a seamless user experience. While it can perform a wide range of cool tasks that appeal to geeks, it should focus on doing a couple of tasks extremely well that will really resonate with mainstream consumers (eg, home security, baby monitoring, Twitter reader, etc).
There are virtually endless opportunities to apply this technology to "bring web apps to life".
The open-source hardware means that someone else could develop their own version of the device, powered by a different software layer.
This is a really exciting innovation. While this kind of sensor technology has been the plaything of garage geeks, the proliferation of mobile and web apps, and social networking tools, means that there is a greater potential to apply it in the lives of everyday consumers. Having a hardware device to sell makes it a very valuable investment or acquisition proposition, and based on the results of the Kickstarter project, it will deliver impressive sales for the company.