Senic Nuimo hands-on – The IoT’s tactile smart controller

Chris Davies - Jan 6, 2016, 3:06 pm CST
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Senic Nuimo hands-on – The IoT’s tactile smart controller

With the smartphone offering a near-infinitely flexible interface, do we really need physical controls for digital services? Senic believes so, and the Nuimo controller is its solution, a touch-sensitive wireless scroll wheel that can manage your streaming music, connected lights, and more.

Born of a successful crowdfunding project in early 2015, Nuimo is effectively a tactile shortcut to apps. While Sonos’ controller, the Hue remote app, and others are all highly flexible, the need to unlock your phone, load the right software, and then hunt through menus means they can be needlessly time-consuming when all you want is to pause a track or dim the lights.

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Nuimo boils the fundamentals down into a single device. In the middle is a simple dot-matrix display showing function and volume – a musical note for your audio system, or a bulb for your connected lights, for instance – and the whole thing is circled by a rotating dial.

Swiping on the display from side to side moves between functions, such as skipping tracks. Swiping up and down changes the device being controlled, and taps control things like turning lights on and off, or play/pause.

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The back is magnetized, which means you can stick the dial to a fridge, and a gesture sensor allows you to control it by moving your hand up and down over the top of the Nuimo, useful if you have dirty hands.

Universal remotes aren’t uncommon – Logitech’s Harmony Elite, for instance, can control a variety of connected home devices in addition to AV equipment – but what helps differentiate Senic’s offering is its feel.

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The steel bearing encoder ring inside gives the dial a pleasing heft, and it has the benefit of being surprisingly precise, with 1,000 individual points of recognition that also give Nuimo potential as a rotary controller for graphics and CAD applications on PCs and Macs.

Bluetooth LE keeps power consumption down – Senic tells me it’ll last for around three months of typical use on a single charge, or up to eight months in complete standby – and it recharges via microUSB. The Nuimo app is available for iOS and Android, and the company has a device compatibility list that includes Sonos, Hue, Nest, Apple TV, August, Photoshop, and more.

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Senic is shipping Nuimo to its Kickstarter backers now, and is taking preorders for the next batch of around 5,000 at $159 apiece. Final retail pricing is expected to be in the region of $199.

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