A South Korean start-up has found what it says is a simple way to turn standard home appliances into smart devices. Naran's MicroBot Push is a wireless robotic finger that can physically push any button. It allows users to remotely control analog appliances like light switches, washing machines or coffee makers that don’t have their own connectivity.
According to its inventors, the Push sticks to any surface, is powerful and adjustable, so it works with most buttons or switches that are common in homes. Instructions are sent from a smartphone to the device via Bluetooth® low energy. A specially designed high-performance micro-motor then drives the button-pressing action. This is enabled by an ultra-low power nRF51822 SoC from Nordic Semiconductor that utilizes an Arm® Cortex®-M0 processor.
The Push also connects via Bluetooth to a companion hub, called the Prota Box, which allows users to automate the process by drawing on information from other sensors or applications. For example, Push could turn on the entrance lights when a GPS-enabled smartphone tracks a person’s location as being near home. This connectivity is enabled by an Allwinner R16 and Allwinner R18 processors. The R16 contains quad-core Arm Cortex-A5 processors while the R18 contains quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processors to deliver high-performance without draining power.
Naran has partnered with a rehabilitation center in Seoul where it aims to demonstrate how home automation can help people with a disability. The company says the benefits extend beyond the device’s mechanics. “Push can also report if and when it has been activated,” explains Naran’s founder Taehyun Park. “For example, if a person has not used the heater when it’s been a cold day, or the lights have not been switched on in the evening, care givers, family or friends can be notified.”