Touchscreens and wearables have pushed the user interface out of a decades-long rut carved by QWERTY keyboards and two-button mice, but are already carving out tracks of their own. Designers of connected products have almost universally taken the same approach to UI: Make a mobile app, which users can run on the general-purpose computers that already live in their pockets. But paradoxically, the more we cram special-purpose software onto multi-purpose hardware, the worse our smartphones function as universal remotes.
Nuimo reverses that equation: Its special-purpose hardware enables multi-purpose physical and gesture inputs that can be programmed to control a wide variety of smart home gadgets and supplement the traditional interfaces of mobile and desktop software.
The top surface of the disc-shaped device supports touchscreen standards like tapping and swiping, while a motion sensor recognizes waving, raising and lowering a hand in the air above. The outer edge is a ring that can be twisted for fine-tuned physical control, kind of like a scroll wheel.
Each of the inputs can be programmed independently and grouped into presets for controlling different devices and applications—smart lights, entertainment systems, video games, design software, you name it. Switching between presets is accomplished with a long-press followed by swiping up or down to scroll through simple icons displayed on a monochrome LED matrix. Controls can be customized at any time using a mobile app, but otherwise Nuimo takes your phone or tablet right out of the equation.
Being fully customizable means there’s a little bit of extra work to get Nuimo set up, but it also means that it can work exactly the way you want it to. That might mean consistent controls across all your devices and apps, like always controlling volume by twisting the outer dial; or it might mean context-based controls, so that your TV’s volume is adjusted smoothly with the dial but your computer’s volume is adjusted incrementally one tap at a time. It’s up to you.
Nuimo connects over Bluetooth Low Energy, which it uses to either pair directly with the devices it’s controlling or to pass commands through a mobile device, computer, or Bluetooth-enabled smart home hub. The life of the rechargeable batteries will depend on usage, but could be up to four months—which is important, as this is the kind of gadget that needs to be there whenever you reach for it instead of begging to be recharged every few days.
The company behind Nuimo, Senic, is now in its second round of crowdfunding as one of the first official German Kickstarter campaigns. Senic’s previous Indegogo campaign in January raised almost $300,000 for what at the time was called the Flow Controller, and brought in a ton of feedback that has been incorporated into the current design. Indeogogo backers will receive the upgraded version at no extra charge when Nuimo begins shipping in the fall, and Kickstarter backers have until June 12 to get in on the action as well.
Learn more in the video below.