My N3RD: A smartphone-controlled smart switch for gadgets
By Paul Ridden
January 22, 2014
Opening garage doors using a smartphone is certainly nothing new. Nor, for that matter, is remotely operating a light switch or kitchen appliance. The My N3RD, however, is claimed capable of turning just about any device switch into a smartphone-controlled, user-programmable smart switch.
After more than three years in development, the creators of the transformer-powered My N3RD (pronounced "nerd") have arrived at a sixth and final version pre-production prototype board that includes a 32-bit SPARC microprocessor, an 802.11b/g Wi-Fi radio, a microcontroller, onboard memory (for storing settings), two isolated relays and two inputs, and LED status indicators.
"In the simplest of terms, My N3RD is a smart switch," explains Wild Hare's Derick Schweppe. "It allows you to upgrade switches to remote control via your smartphone or give a simple switch some more intelligence, like the ability to be latched or set to a timer. My N3RD also works with a variety of power sources, so it can be used for home automation type functions or in a mobile environment like the car."
Some knowledge of electronics is needed to wire up a device switch or sensor, after which the My N3RD can communicate over a direct Wi-Fi connection or via a home network to a smartphone running a free (currently iOS) control app. "It is true that in some cases wiring My N3RD to a device could void its warranty, but we think our customers will be willing to do so in order to upgrade an obsolete device into a smart connected one," Schweppe tells us.
After initial setup and configuration, users will then be able to use the smartphone to unlock car doors or open a convertible top, fire up the motor of a boat, turn on the lights, activate the garage door or property gates opening mechanism, or even to serve as a zone control of wireless speaker setups.
The app can also be used to automate tasks, such as activating your washing machine at a certain time each day (though you'll still have to load in the dirty clothes yourself), or reboot a router if a connection problem is detected.
"Other products on the market do not have the versatility to work as a mobile solution or to change the switch functionality of the device," says Schweppe. "Most products only allow the consumer to control the AC power to the appliance, which makes them ineffective for appliances with standby modes and more sophisticated controls."
At the time of writing, an Android version of the control app is being made ready for the production release of My N3RD, and the company is also hoping to develop a web interface for laptop or computer setup and control, and cloud integration to allow for activation or monitoring when out and about. The production design of the outer housing is still being finalized, so what you see in the gallery might not necessarily be what the end product looks like.
But perhaps we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. To get the My N3RD into production, the development team has launched on Kickstarter. Single unit pledge levels start at US$75, or for an extra $20 you can sign up to be a Beta Tester and get to try out a bare bones system before anyone else, as well as contribute to troubleshooting and problem solving. If funding is successful, shipping of Beta units is estimated to start in March, with the production version following in July.
"We are very confident we will get funded," adds Schweppe. "However, in the event that we do not reach our goal, we will take the feedback from the campaign and go forward with developing and launching My N3RD. We will continue to pursue OEM clients and develop the My N3RD ecosystem through those partners. We would love to see the My N3RD technology in as many products as possible, and we are pursuing relationships with IFTTT and other Cloud Based Technologies."
Have a look at the My N3RD pitch video below for more details.
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