Start IT Up: Ninja Blocks

Start IT Up: Ninja Blocks

Summary: A Sydney-based start-up wants to help connect the Internet to all things – are they on the right track?

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TOPICS: Start-Ups
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You want to turn on the lights. Easy. Use your smartphone. Or you want to check that the babysitter hasn’t fallen asleep on the job. A little surveillance will do the job.

The idea of controlling any device remotely has been talked about for some time, but the enabling technology can be complicated. Ninja Blocks attempts to simplify the whole process with hardware and software that can get your devices talking to web applications. Ultimately, they hope to see the hardware embedded in the equipment itself – whether it’s your fridge, washing machine, or home security system.

Marcus Schappi, president at Ninja Blocks, explains to Phil Dobbie how the product works and their plans for the future. There's no doubt that we all demand some of this interactivity between devices and the internet, but is Ninja Blocks the company that will pave the way? Watch the video then vote in our poll.

Topic: Start-Ups

About

Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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5 comments
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  • Cheers!....

    This is AWESOME! I almost wish I had thought of it FIRST!...LoL! I can only say "Good Luck" to the "NinjaBlock Gang"....maybe you can branch out and give yourself more presence in the IT world?....(offer t-shirts....hats.....stickers...LoL!) Good Luck, I can't wait to get my own NinjaBlock.....I would love to monitor my CEntOS server on my home network while being away at the office!)
    Knighthawk5193@...
  • I hope

    That if these devices DO get integrated into the network, that there will be a way to take the chip, or whatever controls it, OUT of the device without smashing it. I don't want such a thing. Why would I want to turn the lights on with my (non-existant) smart phone or spy on my babysitter? If I don't trust them, I wouldn't have hired them. And there's NO reason to have my washer and dryer online, NONE. If I do my laundry, I certainly don't want the internet to have pictures of my dirty laundry, how much water I used, or anything else. I have to be there to take the clothes out, too. If the little "buzz" timer (mechanical) doesn't give me a clue the cycle is done, I don't want some e-mail coming in telling me to go take the clothes out of the washer and put them in the dryer! By the time I check my e-mail when I finally go online (could be hours or days later) the clothes would have rotted. NO, I don't want instant contact with the world via a tablet or smartphone, and I don't need to receive a notification on it that I'm low on gas in my car, for instance. Sorry.
    janitorman
    • Pros and Cons

      lol- I believe that you are NOT the target market for this kind of device. I would suggest that you DO NOT buy one. :)

      You may not want to turn the lights on or spy on your babysitter but what about turning OFF the lights you forgot or if you wanted to check the kitchen camera to make sure you DID turn the stove off? How about turning your thermostat down/up as you found out you won't be home until late and you don't want to waste the power/gas? There are many things a 'connected' house can offer that are beneficial.
      Broo2
  • Ninja Blocks - success or failure?

    This concept has been touted before - it was called Bluetooth. In fact I remember the same examples were used... in the future we would all be able to control our household appliances e.g. refrigerators etc. What happened to that idea? Bluetooth found a use in phone devices but not much else because it needs hardware compatibility and there is the rub. There is a long track record of small startups with a potentially big idea getting bought out by a big company who wants to control any patents and then the buyer will realise the enormity of the problem and then the idea will probably be quietly dropped. Usually the startup founders make a big killing when they get bought out - good luck Marcus.
    sphillips@...
    • Not Bluetooth

      Issues with Bluetooth are it is range limited (10M on class 2) and it is not very good at passing through objects (and microwaves, WiFi and other cordless devices share the same spectrum).

      This device uses a 433Mhz wireless that is similar to what is used buy many of the remote lamp/switch/outlet/sensors they sell at Fry's and Radio Shack. Some of the alarm companies (DSC, for sure) use similar technology for their wireless window, motion and door sensors. The technology is out there, but it isn't mainstream- and I doubt this device will ever be there either.

      There are several technologies that do very similar functions (x10, Z-Wave) but they are all niche products for hobbyists or gadget junkies. I have been using these for almost 6 years and don't know what i would do without them. :)
      Broo2