A new Kickstarter project plans to offer smart home features to a range of devices, for connecting small apartment buildings to entire enterprises and office buildings. The AngelBlocks gadgets are open source for easy modification, and communicate either 1,000 feet indoors or up to two miles outside, with battery life of just five years. There are different modules for different things, including monitoring temperature, motion, plant health and more, as well as accessories for locking doors, home security, and water flow control.
AngelBlocks is looking to be a whole-home smart solution, in other words, taking an approach similar to what SmartThings has done with their hub, but also by building every single add-on component themselves, at prices which are quite reasonable compared to the leading offerings by third-party device makers.
The system is intelligent, and can “learn” in ways similar to the Nest learning thermostat, to determine what is considered “normal” given specific sensor input and arrange your house accordingly. The individual AngelBlocks communicate with the AngelGate to transmit and receive info to and from the Internet, but they don’t need to talk to a cloud-based service or remote server to work; instead, the AngelGate is itself a small Linux-based web server, which AngelBlocks founder Steve Montgomery tells me makes it more secure and resistant to potential attack.
The whole system works on a basic “if this, then that premise,” with the AngelBlocks transmitting things like air temperature, open/closed status of doors and windows, humidity, smoke detection and much more to the AngelGate hub, which can then make decisions based on the conditions met. What the resulting actions of those decisions might be varies, and includes things like sending text messages, email, Twitter and more, as well as triggering activity within the home, like turning on a humidifier or turning off water (there’s a flow valve control, too) and activating remote monitoring via the AngleBlocks IP camera.
AngelTags, another component of the system, offer the ability to track the location of people, pets and things. These can also trigger actions, so that one placed in a car could trigger the garage door to open when you get moving in the morning. Also, each AngelBlock has sensors on board that let it detect taps and shakes for manual input.
The AngelBlocks hardware isn’t using Zigbee or ZWave, so it doesn’t play nice with other home hubs like SmartThings, but it does support Belkin’s WeMo tech, as well as Philips Hue and others that do use those technologies. Montgomery explained that in its own accessories, it wanted to achieve the longest possible range and battery life, which just wasn’t possible with Zigbee or ZWave.
Backers can pre-order the AngelBlocks system starting at $149 for something read to go out of the box, with an AngelGate and a few AngelBlocks. The whole thing is looking to ship in August 2014, and the project needs to raise $50,000 in the next month or so to be successful.