Your house could soon be smarter than you.
Home automation could extend to any object in your abode with a new, sensor-based device that will detect changes in its environment.
AngelBlocks can be customized into what seems to be nearly limitless uses. For example, they could remind you when to water the plants if moisture levels in the dirt are low, warn you if your dog gets into the trash or even automatically lock the door when you leave the house. Each use can be sorted into one of three categories — notify, monitor or control.
"This kind of technology can save you a lot of time and effort," Steve Montgomery, who created AngelBlocks, told Mashable. "Being able to have the things in your life cooperate with you instead of be a hindrance to you is important."
Each system comes with one AngelGate — the brains of the operation that plugs into an Internet connection. This component wirelessly communicates with the AngelBlocks themselves, which are attached to different household objects (lighter than a computer mouse, they can either be screwed on or affixed with adhesive strips or magnets). Users register each AngelBlock on a web application and program it with a built-in system to do specific things at specific times based on what it senses in its environment, such as movement or temperature. As an added bonus, AngelTags can monitor your location (if they're attached to a keychain, for example) and activate AngelBlocks as you move through certain areas of the house. For instance, you could turn the lights on simply by walking into a room.
AngelBlocks only use as much battery as they have to. When they are not activated they only send a signal back to the AngelGate — which can be done from as far as three miles away — every two to three hours to let it know they are still working. This means that they can operate for approximately five years on one set of two AAA batteries. Each AngelBlock has a pre-determined function according to what it can sense, but can be re-purposed.
The system does not use cloud technology, in an effort to avoid security breaches which could make users' homes vulnerable. Montgomery also stressed that users should be careful not to go overboard. An AngelGate could connect to as many AngelBlocks as there are unique ID numbers (about 4 billion) so you could conceivably hook up everything in your house, but that doesn't mean you always should.
"Technology is a tool just like anything else. If it doesn't benefit us we need to stop using it.""Technology is a tool just like anything else. If it doesn't benefit us we need to stop using it."
Montgomery was inspired to create AngelBlocks out of personal frustrations. On one occasion his toilet overflowed and he and his wife lost an entire day fixing it, a problem that could have been avoided had he been alerted as it happened. Similar products include the Ninja Sphere and SmartThings, but the fact that AngelBlocks can be re-purposed, are wireless, don't use the cloud and are entirely open source sets them apart.
Funds were being raised for Angel Blocks on Kickstarter. The campaign fell just short of its $50,000 goal at a little more than $45,000. The project's website says that the creators are still planning to go forward and are looking at other sources of funding.