Futurists tell us that we’re heading toward the Internet of Things: your electronics talk to each other. Here’s an example… say your hot water heater sends you a SMS when it has enough water for a shower. Maybe your boom box pulls music off your laptop and emails you when it needs new batteries. We’re not there yet, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun.
Case in point, Room Tech Beingz, smart accoutrements directed at the tween market by the same company that makes the iDog. Currently there are only two Beingz products, a mood lamp and an alarm clock.
First, the Beingz lamp. It’s a mushroom-shaped LED light packing some fun features. First of all, it works as a lamp, though it’s relatively dim — I doubt you could read with it. The top is touch sensitive, playing soothing electronic tones and flashing its matrix of lights when you stroke it. Furthermore, it has an internal mic, picking up the sound of music and flashing its lights along with the beat almost like iTunes’ visualizer. Even more interesting, it can also connect "wirelessly" (I’m not exactly sure as to the mechanics of this process) to other Beingz products… more on this later.
The Beingz alarm clock, in addition to its obvious function, serves as an FM radio and MP3 speaker and animates its arms and flashes LEDs along with the music. Here’s where the Internet of Things comes in. When the alarm goes off, the lamp detects it and wakes up, flashing its LEDs and playing pleasing little tunes. Conversely, if you play with the lamp, the clock knows it and lights up. When the alarm goes off, the "mouth" of the clock even pops open, revealing a big speaker.
One of the most fascinating parts of these products is their opaque interface. For the most part, the ins and outs of their control are rather cryptic. They have no obvious buttons (excepting the clock’s alarm and time set functions) using their touch-sensitive surfaces and — most interestingly, their fabric tags — to control what happens.
Here’s an example, the lamp has four different light settings. How do you set it? There’s no switch. You simply have to play with the item’s touch sensitive surfaces and figure it out. The clock’s time display its actually invisible, behind the ‘animal’s’ tummy, and only lights up hourly or when touched.
Currently the line includes only the two items I mentioned above, and this year’s Toy Fair failed to signal any expansions. However, you can imagine all the fun things that could be connected together if the Beingz were expanded to their full potential.