Meet nCube: Smarter Home Control
nCube is your home’s remote control with a twist. Say goodbye to a confusing number of apps and manage everything in your home from one beautifully intuitive app, saving time and money on the way. Combining usability with an eye-catching design nCube has a strong focus on getting all your devices to work together to give you things like:
- Advanced security: Learning your lifestyle so for your peace of mind the home looks lived in whilst you are away on holiday
- Harmonised wake-up: A comforting start to your day throughout your home
- Warm return home: A rewarding welcome in the evening
- Reduced bills: A better way to manage your energy consumption & costs
nCube is the next generation of smart home controls.
Smart Home Technology has the potential to transform our homes, to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Each connected device (e.g. thermostat, light, security sensor, entertainment) increases our comfort and convenience, saves energy costs and makes us feel more secure.
However, with such a range of smart home devices and associated apps, control and co-ordination can be an issue. nCube tackles this problem of integration head on. Instead of working out how to use each app and device individually, the nCube system provides a way of synchronising all these devices through one comprehensive, consistent and simple app. This allows you to create your own personal range of effects around your home effortlessly and without intrusive wiring - if you move home it's easy to take everything with you.
The examples above are just a few ideas. nCube will allow you to tailor your devices to enhance your lifestyle, limited only by your imagination.
Unique Cubes: Your automations
Besides a smart looking box and beautiful app, nCube also allows you to build “Cubes”: different configurations of devices and settings to suit your home at specific times of the day or for individual events. Set up your own Cubes or download your favourites, the choice is yours. However you choose to organise your home, the nCube app will guide you seamlessly, making it truly the brain at your smart home’s heart.
From waking up in the morning to receiving a warm welcome home at the end of the day or ensuring your house looks lived-in whilst on holiday, there are many ways to set up your smart home devices.
Cubes are very easy to create using the natural language interface - just click through to simply describe the exact scenario you want to create. To make it even easier the app has a number of pre-populated examples which can be edited for your own use.
Additionally from time to time the app will recommend new ideas and will also allow Cubes which you have created to be shared between friends and family. If you’re inspired by another Cube but don’t yet own the required devices, we've even made it easy to buy additional devices from within the app itself.
- Use multiple input conditions for a Cube to happen - e.g. if it's between 17:30 and 08:00 and the hallway motion sensor is triggered then turn on the hallway light.
- Use multiple output results such as combining several devices to react together.
- It's also possible to apply time conditions such as turning on the hallway light for 10 minutes.
- Link to a mode. For example if my mode is 'away' and it's between 17:30 and 08:00 and the hallway motion sensor is triggered then turn on the hallway light and also send me a message.
As well as the intelligence of the innovative Cubes, there's a whole lot more that nCube does compared to other smart home platforms.
The nCube app combines usability with some key features which set it apart from the crowd:
- Build your own “Cubes”: different configurations of devices and settings to suit your home at specific times of the day or for individual events. Set up your own Cubes or download your favourites.
- Enhanced security means that in addition to username and password, nCube also requires smartphone recognition to access the hub.
- Give different permissions to different users: allow the kids to turn the lights on, but save the heating controls for the grown ups!
- Control your hub even when your home internet is down - nCube works offline
- Built for privacy. All of your data remains within the home and you don't sign it over to anyone in order to start using nCube.
- Choose a mode - “home”, “away” or “panic” for a quick smart device fix and integrate how each mode manages your home for you.
How it works
The nCube app is designed to guide you through getting all of your devices working together as quickly and easily as possible:
- Set up is as simple as installing the app and plugging in the nCube hub on your home network. nCube can be accessed either using the app or via the browser so it can be used from any laptop or tablet as well as from your mobile.
- Setting up new devices involves just a couple of clicks to search for and then start using any of the huge number of nCube compatible devices. Simply set up the device on it's own app first then go ahead and set it up in nCube. Z-Wave devices have a slightly different process - usually a triple-click on the device button.
- Personalise the devices by giving them a name, deciding if you want them in a room and if they should be a favourite device on the home screen or not.
- With the devices set up, Cubes is the next place to go to. Follow the natural language experience to customise everything to behave the way you want it to.
- Create and manage multiple rooms.
- Create and manage modes. The first two modes are 'Home' and 'Away' which are single-click methods to put the home into a ‘Security' or 'Lived-in' feel depending where you are.
In the video Phil demonstrates how several different devices are all consistently and conveniently controlled within the nCube app.
However you choose to organise your home, the nCube app will guide you seamlessly, making it truly the brain at your smart home’s heart.
One app for all of your devices
Currently every smart home device has a completely different app design with all sorts of different menu structures and layouts. It is hard to remember how to use each of the various interfaces. We designed nCube to give you a complete view of all your smart home devices which means we can provide a single consistent experience no matter what you want to control.
People are talking about us
We are very grateful to our design partners, Map Project Office for working with us on bringing our design ideas to life. We selected Map because of their well known support for Kano, SAM Labs and Hackaball. At Map's own exhibit during London Design festival they created a brilliant demonstration of the set of products (Kano, SAM Labs, Hackaball & nCube) working together like a Rube Goldberg machine. As a result nCube was listed as one of the top 10 tech innovations during the festival.
“From your lightbulbs and blinds to your security camera, thermostat and television, nCube puts simple, seamless home automation at your fingertips.” - Live Smart
“Very clever tech, amazing how much this stuff is capable of” - Oliver Birch, Smart Home Summit
“Loving the Raspberry Pi-based connected home from nCube!” - Richard Porter, Director of Consumer Digital Products, O2
The Technical Stuff
The hub plugs into your WiFi router using a LAN cable and is powered via a micro-USB cable (both included). The hub supports wifi connection to the home network or a LAN connection. We support Wifi, Bluetooth and Z-Wave radios, which means that the system is compatible with a wide range of smart home products.
We support approaching 70 devices already and are constantly looking to add more. Sonos, Belkin Wemo, Philips Hue, Lifx, Nest, Everspring, Fibaro, AEON Labs and a huge range of z-wave devices.
What's in the box?
You’ll get an nCube Hub, an ethernet cable, a USB power cable and a power supply. That's everything you need to get set up and started.
A box on your bookshelf?
The hub looks great either standing on a shelf visible or tucked away inside the box. We like clever things, so we’ve designed the packaging with a hole for your cables to go through. The hub will work from within the box so you can pop your box onto the bookshelf - neat and tidy.
Why is nCube different?
For anyone familiar with free email accounts and social network profiles you know the ‘cost’ is really your data - if a product is free then in fact you are the product. We think your home is far more private than your social network profile so we don’t ask you to sign over your profile data to use nCube. But we’ve also gone a whole step further and designed nCube so all your data and logic (e.g. Cube settings) are held on the nCube hub not our cloud servers.
Eventually we would like to take this further. nCube has become one of very few companies to champion the opt-in privacy model. We can’t now control what other manufacturers do with your data but we do want to start a privacy revolution, putting privacy control where it belongs, at the forefront of the customer experience.
As your home is your castle we think smart home products should be more secure than username/password. So we have innovated here too by only allowing remote access if you have first accessed your nCube hub when attached to your home network. We also give you the choice over what changes and controls can be accessed remotely. And we include per user control too for even more peace of mind control.
The nCube Future
Right now, we support nearly 70 devices - but this is only the beginning. We’ll be working hard on keeping the platform up to date in the evolving smart home ecosystem. A lot of our value lies in Cubes - at the moment we’ve created some pre-defined Cubes that come with your app as well as some inspirations to tickle your creativity. We’re planning a community based Cube-store where you upload and download Cubes to use in your home.
We relentlessly trawl the world for the best smart home products and carry out a comprehensive evaluation of their real benefits, quality, usability and value. If they are products our team want to use in our own homes and really believe in the value they give, then we will integrate them and recommend them to you.
Future evolutions include:
- easily buy the latest smart home technology from within the app
- regularly see new ideas of how to automate your home
- intelligently control your home based on your location (do things when you come home)
- Experiment with bluetooth iBeacons throughout your home
We’re sorry, we can’t control the kids - but we can control everything else.
Meet the man with the vision
The idea for nCube started when founder Philip Steele invented a device to automate his bedroom at the age of 14 to save energy costs. He took an old ruler, two springs, a micro-switch and an old tape deck motor and assembled a simple pressure switch to go under the carpet in the doorway. This caused the tape deck motor to rotate (approximately once per second if you remember the old C90 tape players) with a beer bottle cap bent into a cam shape to depress a mains power switch.
Following a twenty year career in telecoms, product delivery and software development, Philip decided that the time was right to bring that initial prototype up to date and nCube was born. Passionate about consumer privacy, security and delivering a great user experience, Philip and team have spent over two years bringing nCube off the paper and into the home. Now, following feedback from a small group of users, the product has been refined and perfected and is now almost ready for delivery to a wider audience.
Highlights from our journey
Risks and challenges
We have already come a long way with getting nCube launched.
The software has been under beta test through the summer with a hand-selected group of early adopters and we're really pleased with the progress and state of the software.
We are using existing, proven, hardware components (Raspberry Pi board, USB dongles, z-wave radio board) which have also been tested through the summer.
Our design and manufacturing partners are very experienced at production and shipping and brought to market products such as Kano, Sam Labs and Hackerball.
That said there are still a number of risks before we ship. The final product requires CE/FCC approvals (which we are confident completing as all the electronics are already approved modules). We could experience delays in getting the first manufacturing run going, or there could be software issues in supporting larger volume than our initial beta user base.
We are acutely aware of these issues and think we have them in hand but you never know.
Throughout our campaign and beyond we will provide regular updates and respond to all comments. Alternatively you can reach us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @ncubehome.
- (30 days)