Connecting analog devices to the Internet of Things can be a hassle. If your stereo doesn't have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, then how will you tell it to start automatically playing your sweet jams when you get home after work? The answer might be a robotic finger called the Microbot Push: a low-energy Bluetooth device that can be stuck to any surface and that physically pushes buttons when you wirelessly tell it to.
The push connects to a hub which connects to the internet
The Push is the creation of Korean startup Naran, which unveiled the device earlier this year and is preparing to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo on November 9th. Each Push connects to an internet-connected hub via low-energy Bluetooth and from there can be accessed online and controlled via app. The rather drab-looking "fingers" have an internal battery that lasts six months and a maximum torque of 1.6 kgf — enough, says Naran, to flick pretty much any button or switch (as long as the Push fits over it of course).
The Push is an odd mixture of stupidity and brilliance. As Naran says, it's an incredibly simple way to bridge the physical and digital world, but its functionality is also limited to that of the button it presses. You might, as the company says, use the Push to start your coffee brewing remotely, but this is only true if your coffee maker works with a single switch. Most require additional steps or at least some preparation, and the same is true of appliances like ovens and stereos. Similarly, depending on the type of switch it is, you might need two Push bots to operate a single device.
The fingers also come with an automation platform similar to IFTTT
This isn't to say that the Push wouldn't be handy though, and Naran is certainly trying to maximize its utility, offering an "automation platform" called Stories that looks similar to If This Then That (IFTTT). Users can give instructions to their robotic fingers based on sensor data, e.g. "If I get home, Push turns on the living room lights," or "If I sent 'time for coffee' on Slack, Push starts the espresso machine."
Some people will definitely find that useful, and Naran has plans to expand its Internet of Things functionality by adding additional Microbots with different abilities in the future. For now, though, we'll be waiting for the company's Indiegogo campaign to see how much it's going to charge for these little robotic helpers. Naran says it will also be showing off its devices at CES in January, with the Microbot Push going on sale March next year in Europe and North America.