AngelBlocks: Smart Wireless Building Blocks For Smart Homes
AngelBlocks: Smart Wireless Building Blocks For Smart Homes
Peel and stick open source smart system gives anything in your home a higher IQ. Go way beyond light and appliance control. Wirelessly
Peel and stick open source smart system gives anything in your home a higher IQ. Go way beyond light and appliance control. Wirelessly Read more
About this project
Your front door is cracked open so your cats can come and go, but you want to know if someone opens the door and comes in. Your alarm system can't do that.
When your child leaves for school, he knocks on the door once and you get a text message he has left the house.A small plastic tag in his backpack automatically locks the door when he leaves.When he comes from, he knocks twice and you get a text he made it home.The tag in his pocket automatically unlocks the door for him. Your home automation system can't do that.
AngelBlocks can do those things and so much more: they form the most flexible and comprehensive wireless home automation system on the planet.AngelBlocks work with all of your things, not just those with plugs and switches, automating your life, not just your home. AngelBlocks can communicate 1000 feet indoors and 2 miles outdoors and operate for 5 years from a set of batteries: they are a truly unique approach to smart home technology.
- Start with our Starter Kit for $199 (or $149 if you are quick enough)
- Add $39 for each additional AngelBLOCK
- Add $59 for each additional WaterBLOCK
- Add $159 for each additional LockBLOCK
- Add $15 for each additional RC Outlet.
- Add $79 for each AngelBLOCK IP Camera
- Pledge the total amount and pick the kit reward you started with
- We have created a spreadsheet you can download to help calculate your pledge.
- If you have any questions, our team is standing by. Just send us a message and we will provide any help you need.
- AngelTags - give one to each of your family and your home will automatically respond as they move around the around
- MailBox - put an EnviroBlock in your mailbox get notified when mail arrives.
- Automobile - put an AngelTag in your vehicle and your home will secure itself when you leave
- Integrate - use your existing technologies (Zigbee, ZWave, WeMo, Hue, and more)
- Plants - use our PlantBlock to monitor soil moisture in plants and gardens
- WaterBlock - turn water on and off. Hot and cold, indoors and out.
- Pets - use alert tones to warn them away from places they don't need to be, like the bathroom trash
- Valuables - put an AngelTAG on your tools, trailers, or other valuables and know when they are disturbed
- Chicken Coop - Use an EnviroBlock and OutletBlock to keep conditions perfect and predator free.
- EnviroBlock - put one on your property gates and know when they are open
- Garage Door - use a ContactBlock with your garage door opener
- EnviroBlock - use one of these with an IP camera to keep your kids out of the liquor cabinet
- Shed or Barn - Use an AlarmBlock to secure your out buildings
AngelBLOCKs are small, inexpensive, and wireless so they can be put anywhere and everywhere. They cooperatively monitor their environment, watching for changes that could indicate a problem or situation that needs attention or action.
When a change or a problem is detected, they can notify you directly using built in speech synthesis as well as messaging via the Internet. AngelBlocks can actively change their environment, turning water on and off, locking and unlocking doors, controlling appliances, setting the thermostat, and much more.
Using AngelTags, AngelBlocks can track the presence of people, pets, and things, creating an environmental user interface that you can use to control your home simply by moving around it. AngelBlocks can automatically turn off appliances and lights when you leave the room, saving energy. They can also detect when you leave home and shut your garage door, lock your doors, turn off dangerous appliances, and activate your security system.
AngelBlocks will absorb most existing smart home technologies, using their sensory and responsive capabilities to augment the intelligent behavior of the system. Out of the box, we integrate with WeMo, Ninja, Philips Hue and RadioThermoStat. The AngelBridge, an add-on-card for the AngelGate, adds support for Z-Wave and Zigbee. Insteon support will be a stretch goal.
Intelligence is created using simple "when this happens then do that" behavior rules. As new AngelBlocks are added to the system, these rules are automatically generated for you, making installation simple and quick. You have complete control over your home and can easily modify behavior rules with a few finger swipes on a smart phone.
Our rules system supports global variables, allowing you to create operating modes for your home (away, home, kidshome, etc) that customize how your home behaves based on, for example, who is home.
AngelBlocks can communicate with you directly using speech synthesis built into each block, by sending messages to your electronic devices, and by directly manipulating your environment (eg. flashing your bedroom lights).
AngelBlocks are equipped with a gesture engine that can recognize simple gestures such as tapping and shaking. You can use these gestures to communicate with the system or to control lights and appliances.
All AngelBlock functions and configuration can be accessed using any browser enabled smart phone, tablet, or PC. You can use these devices to control your system when you are away from home or to install and configure new AngelBlocks.
At its core, AngelBLOCKs are eminently hackable. As an open source hardware and software technology, you will have everything you need to customize and extend AngelBLOCKs. Our MakerBLOCK allows you to connect your own circuitry to an AngelBLOCK for custom applications. Signals are provided for UART, SPI, I2C, 10-bit A/D, and digital IO. Click here for more technical info about our maker kits.
We realize that you might want to control your AngelBLOCKs with your own hardware or software. To make that possible we offer our maker kits. These kits are available for Arduino (and footprint compatible SBC), Raspberry Pi, and PC/MAC. In each case, you get an appropriate adapter board with the RF circuitry to control AngelBLOCKs and one MakerBLOCK for the low pledge price of only $75 (if you are quick, you can pick up an early bird special for $60)..
If you have any questions about how the Maker kits work or what you need, please send us a message.
Our goal when we began development was to combine our expertise is wireless protocols and hardware with our experience in software development to create the world's first wireless building block system for making truly smart homes.
We started development at the very beginning of January in 2013. Here are some pictures of our progress.
Since that time, AngelBlocks has gone through a large number of design iterations, each one making AngelBlocks better. Originally, AngelBlocks was designed to be a Lego type building block system where you could stack blocks on top of each other to customize functionality. By the beginning of this year, that plan was simplified down to one plug-in block called an AngelWing. AngelBlock+AngelWing = Functionality. You can see an example of that in the picture above.
That core concept is still in play in the current design, but we opted to make the function module internal to make AngelBlocks easier to use. Now, you just select the AngelBlock with the functionality you want, we ship it to you pre-configured.
We originally launched AngelBlocks on Kickstarter January 5, 2014. While feedback was positive and our funding was on track to make its goal, feedback from our backers told us we could do a better job. So we effectively paused the project. Kickstarter doesn't have a pause button, so in reality we had to cancel our first project with the intent to relaunch within 6-8 weeks.
We have been very busy since then fixing and improving the project in several key areas:
1. Improving the quality and focus of our message
2. Improving the aesthetic appearance of our blocks
3. Adding new blocks to the system based on requests from our backers (BBQ, Glow, Lock, and Water)
4. Improving our notification system to include speech synthesis at the AngelBlock
5. Utilizing the hardware in the AngelBlock better by adding gesture recognition. You can now tap, twist, and shake AngelBlocks to interact with your home.
6. Adding intelligence to the installation process that automatically generates new behavior rules as blocks are added.
7. Adding support for Z-Wave and Zigbee to integrate with existing home automation technologies.
That may seem like a lot, but we brought in experts to help us with the video and messaging. The functional improvements were all in code and were relatively easy to add.
In the last couple of weeks, we have transitioned from the rectangular case (see the PlantBlock for an example) to a square case to make the visible AngelBlocks more attractive. We are still transitioning all of the circuit boards to the square form factor, but those are form-factor changes and do not affect functionality.
In summary, AngelBlocks are all working and nearly ready for production. Here is a shot from one of our work benches showing the guts of most of our boards.
We need to fix a couple of things and make some PCB changes, finish the design of the AngelBridge, get certification for the wireless components, and have professional plastic molds made. We have fantastic relationships with a testing lab and injection molding company that allow us to quickly and cheaply complete those tasks.
PCB assembly and final production will be completed at our factory in Yukon, Oklahoma. Our facility is equipped with automated assembly equipment and our personnel have decades of manufacturing experience.
1. Build plastic molds for AngelGate, AngelBlock, and PlantBlock
2. Finalize PCB for new square enclosure
3. World-wide certification for US, Canada, Mexico, all EU countries, Australia, new Zealand, and Brazil. If you are in another country, ask us about certification.
4. Initial production of rewards at our factory in Yukon, OK.
Risks and challenges
Collectively, our team has been designing and building hi-tech products like AngelBlocks for decades. We have our own facility with automated assembly equipment, eliminating the normal scheduling and quality problems associated with 3rd party contract production. We are very confident we can deliver AngelBlocks on time.
However, this is our first Kickstarter project and the process of building rewards for backers is new to us. We have already learned that we have a lot to learn about crowd funding and we anticipate that will continue to be true throughout the fulfillment process.
Based on these statements, we evaluate risks to delivery in the following order of priority
1. Learning curve in managing crowd funding fulfillment process
2. Availability of materials. Currently, there is adequate supply of the parts we need, but world events can change that situation over night. Fortunately, we have a lot of experience managing this risk factor.
3. Bugs. AngelBlocks is a big project with a lot of moving parts. We follow industry standard testing protocols, but there is always the chance that a major bug slips by us. If we miss one until the 11th hour, it might cause delays as we try to fix it prior to production. It is important for all of our backers to understand that this is a work in progress. It is not a completed project. We still have design and testing to do and that can affect the schedule and the feature set of the final product. It will not affect the pricing, however. We will honor Kickstarter pricing to every backer regardless of any increased costs we have to incur.
4. Lack of funding. If we meet our goal, and do nothing more, we will have to add a considerable amount of our own money to the project, which we are willing to do. If we can raise at least $250K, this won't be required. If we meet our goal but raise less than $250K, there is the potential for the schedule to slip. In fact, and this is important, the schedule can slip significantly, even up to 6-9 months. It is important as you consider whether you want to support this project that you consider our funding level and your willingness to accept that risk.
5. Feature creep. We will try to add any useful feature suggested by backers, but each work item we take on affects the schedule. In addition, there is always the possibility that as we complete the development cycle, a feature will morph or change. In the end, we will have a better product, but it might look different than what we are presenting here.
Fortunately, we know that crowd-funding backers are sophisticated and understand these risks. We are confident that, working together, we will manage them as well as possible and, through constant communication, keep our backers in the loop so there are no big surprises.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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