Right now, the smartphone is the universal remote to the Internet of things. Whether you’re flicking on your Philips Hue smartlights, queuing up a Spotify playlist on your stereo, or setting the temperature on your Nest, it’s all done on an app running in the iPhone in your pocket.
But what if controlling all of the smart devices in your life was as easy and analog as turning a knob? That’s the idea behind Nuimo, a capacitive smart dial by German startup Senic.
With aesthetics that come directly out of the Dieter Rams/Jony Ive school of thought, the battery powered knob can connect to your computer or smartphone over Bluetooth, and thanks to a capacitive trackpad built into the face of the Nuimo, you can control any of these gadgets or services fully, without ever loading up an app. Just swipe, pinch, and tap the knob to adjust settings, whether that’s to brighten the color of your smart light bulbs, or pause the movie you’re playing on Netflix.
Initially, the Nuimo should sync up with 30 different apps (Spotify, Netflix, Soundcloud, YouTube, etc.) and devices (Sonos, Withings, Nest, Philips Hue, and so on), but that’s just to start: an open API makes adding more devices and apps possible over time.
According to Tobias Eichenwald, who created the Nuimo along with engineer Philip Michaelides and industrial designer Felix Christmann, the biggest problem with controlling these devices with a smartphone is that there are too many steps. Take something like a Philips Hue smart lightbulb: to take full advantage of its abilities, you need to unlock your phone, open an app, and navigate through menus. That’s not how we want to interact with physical objects, like a lamp, says Eichenwald. We also want to interact with it physically. And that’s true for most of the connected devices in our house, too, whether it’s adjusting the thermostat, listening to some music, opening a smart lock, or even watching something on the television.
Even better? Nuimo doesn’t just pair with one app or gadget: you can connect it to as many smart devices and services as you have, and then easily scroll through them on the knob. As you switch between functions, a subtle, integrated LED display will light up the face of the Nuimo, showing you what it’s currently controlling.
The Nuimo has other benefits over a smartphone as a universal remote, too. For one thing, says Eichenwald, a smartphone is usually joined to the hip of another person, who doesn’t want other people fiddling with it. That’s fine when they’re checking their email, but more than one person should be able to control what’s playing on the stereo, what the thermostat’s temperature is, or a room’s lighting at once. The Nuimo allows anyone to control the apps and devices in today’s smart homes, even if they don’t have a smartphone or know the house’s Wi-Fi password. And because it’s magnetic and battery-powered, you can put it pretty much anywhere.
Eichenwald tells me that the time for something like the Nuimo is going to become rapidly apparent in the coming years, as the Internet of things pervades every aspect of our household lives. “We want to seamless to interact with our homes, our music, our lights, and our locks,” he tells me. “Nuimo fills a gap that gives you seamless and simple control over all the things you love in a natural way.”
Nuimo is currently accepting preorders on Kickstarter, starting at around $110. Delivery is expected in October. You can fund the campaign here.