The Internet of Things is hastening the day when every bit of technology in our lives is designed around hands-free controls like sensors and voice activation. But in the meantime, the world is still full of buttons, switches, toggles, and other physical controls. If you’re sick of fiddling with all those moving parts, why not let a tiny robot finger take over?
That’s the idea behind MicroBot Push, from Korean home automation company Naran. It’s a small battery-powered device that you stick onto any appliance or lightswitch cover, so that its motorized, rubber-tipped “finger” hovers over the button or rocker switch you want to automate. Each MicroBot has a Bluetooth connection, which means you can control the dumb device it’s attached to from a mobile app. The bots also include a capacitive button, so you can still trigger them manually if you need to.
Push is just the first in what Naran plans to be a line of MicroBots that bridge the gap between various older technologies and the IoT. The company’s other concepts include Twist, a motorized upgrade for knobs, such as volume controls or deadbolts; and Bridge, an infrared remote for appliances like televisions, stereos and air conditioners.
However, none of these robots helpers would be very impressive if all they offered was direct Bluetooth control — though you can certainly use them that way. But Naran is also producing a home automation hub, Prota, that greatly extends the reach of MicroBots. For one thing, Prota connects to the Internet, so you’ll be able to control your MicroBots from anywhere. But more importantly, it also stores rules for automatic behaviors that can link your MicroBots to other connected devices and web-based services.
Naran funded Push and Prota with an Indieogogo campaign in late 2015, and expects to deliver the first units this summer. Learn more in the video below.