Knocki is a device that can turn any surface into a rudimentary “smart” remote, letting you tap it to control things like smart lights or coffee makers.
You can make an entire wall — or a table, or a cabinet — a trigger for whatever smart-home function you want, co-creator Jake Boshernitzan tells Business Insider.
The Knocki takes the form of a small cylinder that looks a bit like if Apple made a hockey puck.
Here’s how it works:
You place the Knocki on a surface (the wall, nightstand, underneath a table). Knocki then uses accelerometer to tell when someone is tapping it. A good rule of thumb is that if you could hear the tap with your head against the surface, Knocki can detect it, Boshernitzan says. The Knocki calibrates itself based on the ambient data it’s getting from the environment, and you can program it to respond differently to various patterns of taps.
What can it control? Knocki connects to Wi-Fi, so theoretically it can be integrated with most “smart” devices. Boshernitzan touts integrations with Nest, Philips Hue smart lights, Spotify, WeMo, and so on. And Knocki runs on batteries you only have to replace once every year or so.
I got a chance to try out Knocki and it really does function quite well. A few taps on the table and it could turn on a light or even make a phone ring (in case you misplaced your phone). And Knocki could detect patterns easily.
The big challenge for Knocki, which will cost around $60 to preorder, will be finding a killer use case. The device is undeniably fun to play with, and works, but the problem is that many of its potential functions might simply work better with a smartphone or a sound-activated device, like Amazon’s Echo.
The idea of tapping my nightstand to start a pot of coffee in the morning is delightful, but then I remember that if I had a smart coffee pot I could just sync it to start with my alarm. And that if I had an Echo, and smart bulbs, I could just ask Alexa to dim the lights for me.
Boshernitzan mentions some novel uses, particularly with people who have problems with their vision or moving around. For instance, one son had his elderly father tap the (Knocki-enabled) medicine cabinet when he took his medication every day, so the son could make sure he didn’t forget.
That’s compelling, but very niche.
One place Knocki might find success is in non-consumer uses. Boshernitzan mentions showing the device to a restaurateur who was excited about being able to put one under a table: tap twice to call a waiter to your table.
But looking at the broader picture, it’s not hard to see something like Knocki (or Knocki’s tech) fitting in as an option for the home of the future. Talk to your smart house, tap a surface, or control your appliances with your phone — whichever is most convenient at the time.
See a few more Knocki images below: