Clap on! Clap off! The Clapper! Everyone remembers the catchy jingle for the product that can be considered an early piece of smart home technology. Even though The Clapper has become a thing of the past, typically reserved for being parodied and poked fun of in various sitcoms and television shows, the idea behind it remains as essential to smart home technology now as ever: What is the easiest, most streamlined way to control technology in the home?
A new startup currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, Knocki, and its product of the same name, are trying to answer that question in the form of The Clapper for the 21st century.
As Business Insider reports, Knocki is a smart home device that can turn any surface in a home into a device for controlling smart home gadgets. After attaching a Knocki device (similar in shape and size to a hockey puck) to a nightstand, table, or wall, users can then knock on the surface of the fixture to control smart home devices.
For example, if a Knocki is attached to a kitchen counter, you could tap the counter twice to turn on or off the lights, and knock three times to do the same with the TV. The device connects to other smart home devices throughout the house via the Wi-Fi network and can be programmed to accept a variety of commands through different patterns of knocks and pauses.
Think about it like controlling your home via a form of Morse code. Two quick knocks on a nightstand may be the snooze button on your alarm. Two knocks, a pause, and a third knock on the same nightstand may signal your coffee maker to fire up in the morning. And three knocks, back-to-back-to-back, may be used to lock the doors and turn off all the lights in the home before bed.
The company’s video about their product on Kickstarter says products such as Amazon Echo that use voice control can often times misunderstand the speaker and not function properly. Knocki, however, says the simplicity of its product and the use of vibrations from knocking eliminates anything being lost in translation between user-input and the device signaling other devices in the home.
However, if a person has multiple Knocki devices on multiple surfaces in their home, and each surface controls a different group of devices that has its own knocking pattern to remember in order to communicate with the devices, it can get complicated pretty quickly. Was turning on the TV two knocks or two knocks or three? Did I just turn on my nightlight or unlock the entire house? It appears as though the Knocki may not suffer from misunderstanding the inputs like some voice activated controllers. On the other hand, it could commit the cardinal sin of becoming more complex to use than the inconveniences it is trying to rectify.
Is tapping three times on a coffee table to turn on a television really all that more convenient than pressing an on button? Seeing as how the company reached its Kickstarter goal of $35,000 within one hour of launching the campaign and at the time of writing this article sits at $360,000, apparently most people believe it is.