Ninja Blocks Ultimate Tech Warrior System

Posted: January 27, 2013
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The only thing I know about Hackers is that Angelina Jolie makes a hot one, but according to Ninja Blocks, that's enough to qualify me for the job. Of a hacker, not Angelina Jolie. Though I could probably pull off the latter pretty well too if it didn't mean spending all my time with that gaggle of children. If I were Angelina Jolie, my first order of business would be reverting to my former lesbian lifestyle. But until that opportunity presents itself, I suppose hacker is an interesting alternative.

Ninja Blocks are palm-sized, hackable devices that connect with a variety of sensors and actuators to enable Big Brothering (monitoring) and Kim Jong Illing (controlling) common household systems directly from a cell phone. The starter kit includes a temperature and humidity sensor, a wireless motion sensor, and a wireless door bell. Additional hardware and add-ons materialize for purchase once introductory skills are mastered, such as turning the lights on and off when not at home, programming a phone to send a text when someone is at the front door, and making the Legacy Power Wagon horn honk every time a stranger gets within 5 feet of it*.

Other Ninja Block powers of stealth and domination:

  • Build Web-connected security provisions. Within 5 minutes, you can program a Ninja Block to text you whenever it detects motion or a door or window being opened. It will even record images and save them to your Dropbox.
  • The Temperature & Humidity sensor will monitor your (or rich people's) wine cellar from anywhere in the world, and the Ninja Rules Engine enables the construction of "the world's best thermostat." [Yeah, I don't know about the validity of that last bit. Mostly because I can't imagine how one would conduct a thermostat pageant to crown one the best in the world.]
  • Control your Ninja Block's RGB LED eyes. The company's Web Hooks feature will change their color based on events like a server going down, or the stock market climbing.
  • The Ninja Block also contains an Arduino compatible micro-controller for programming with the official Arduino IDE.

Each Ninja Block houses a credit card-sized BeagleBone (nice branding, someone!)--an Open Source Computer that runs Ubuntu Linux. Hack Me tags provide instant access to the Open Source Computer and Arduino inside, so users can download all the designs for applicable Ninja Block software, as well as the electronics schematics and the enclosure design.

*Actually, you can buy the extra Ninja Blocks stuff any time you want, I just thought it was cooler to make it sound like a video game where you have to complete one level to advance to the next. Also, I'm not sure if you can really do the horn thing.

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