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Ninja Blocks add spy power to everyday stuff

Computerized sensing platforms can tell you when your dog gets on the sofa or when someone tries to steal your morning newspaper. Throwing stars not included.

Ninja Blocks can trigger actions in response to stimuli, such as switching on a light when a baby cries.
Ninja Blocks

If your world isn't already complex enough, or if you're just a control freak, it's time to add some ninja to your life.

Sensor-equipped platforms called Ninja Blocks are designed to bring the Internet of things to a ubiquitous, open-source reality.

The result of a recent successful Kickstarter project that raised more than $100,000, Ninja Blocks obey simple "if this, then that" commands to add functionality to your environment through the Web.

For instance, when your friends are playing on Xbox Live a Ninja Block could trigger an action in your living room, like turning on a lamp. Or a Ninja Block could text your phone when a package is delivered to your door. You could also activate household lights or electronics via your Ninja by talking to Siri.

Each block comes with a customized Arduino board and a built-in accelerometer and thermometer. Adding sensors can allow it to detect current, humidity, motion, distance, sound, and light, as well as record video.

Expansion ports let the gadget act upon its environment, controlling lights and motors, for instance; there are built-in ethernet and USB ports.

The blocks connect to the Internet through an online service called Ninja Cloud, which links them to sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Dropbox. Check out the promo vid below.

Users don't need any programming knowledge but can tinker and solder with the blocks if they want, just like with Twine, a similar successful Kickstarter project that raised more than half a million dollars.

The company that makes Ninja Blocks is based in San Francisco and Sydney, Australia, and the products are expected to ship in May for $155 AUD ($160) for just the block, or $255 AUD ($264) for the block and a suite of sensors -- light, temperature and humidity, distance, push button, and motion.

There seems to be quite a demand for sensing platforms like this, but I'm content to let the world surprise me once in a while. What do you think? Do you want to Webify your home even more?

(Via Technology Review)