Control & Automation

Nexpaq’s Modular Framework: How Home Automation UIs and UXs Should be Built

Demonstrated at CES 2016, Nexpaq's modular Batpaq is a clever framework for building your own smartphone case, but the platform could also enable consumers to create their own light switches, keypads and home automation controllers.

Nexpaq’s Modular Framework: How Home Automation UIs and UXs Should be Built
CES 2016: Nexpaq Batpaq was developed as a modular framework for smartphone cases but could be adopted for use as home automation keypads and controllers.

Photos & Slideshow

Julie Jacobson · January 11, 2016

Nexpaq raised $280,000 on Kickstarter last May when it introduced the Batpaq “truly modular smartphone case” that includes a frame and snap-in modules for such features as LED lighting, home automation, and SD card readers.

Ostensibly, the product was launched as a cellphone case, but that’s just the beginning. As demonstrated at CES 2016, Nexpaq wants to extend the product’s reach into the home, the car, wearables, and more.

Imagine a light switch, for example, that is contained in a Nexpaq frame for controlling that load, while adding the user’s choice of features – perhaps a night light, motion sensor, microphone, Bluetooth beacon, USB port, Z-Wave connectivity, loudspeaker, camera and/or clock.

If the secret to maintaining customers for life is to keep them engaged with the products you sell, then the Nexpaq model is a winner. Not only will consumers stay engaged with the product, they will buy new modules as they become available. Nexpaq modules start at $20 for a battery pack or a dual-button hotkey, and run up to $45 for an air quality module.

Naturally there needs to be software to go with the modules. For example, the breathalyzer module needs to talk to some kind of alcohol-measuring app. Nexpaq has rudimentary apps for each of its modules, but the company is offering a Nexpaq developer’s kit (NDK) – both hardware and software – for other developers to build their own solutions.

Regardless of whether you use Nexpaq’s framework or your own, this is the way I’d like to see all light switches built in the future – with a framework that allows consumers themselves to build their own user interfaces and experiences.




  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at jjacobson@ehpub.com

Follow Julie on social media:
Twitter · LinkedIn · Google+

Julie also participates in these groups:
LinkedIn · Google+

View Julie Jacobson's complete profile.



  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Automation · News · Products · Media · Slideshow · Videos · CES · Nexpaq · All Topics
CE Pro Magazine

Read More Articles Like This… With A Free Subscription

CE Pro magazine is the resource you need to keep up-to-date on the latest products, techniques, designs and business practices. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!

Comments

Posted by Tucker on January 19, 2016

It’s the next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways It’s still rock and roll to me ~ Billy Joel

While many in the integration community will label this concept of modular hardware with words such as ‘Silly’, ‘Limited’, and perhaps even the dreaded ‘DIY’. Personally I feel that this is the future of AV and its hardware.

Having the ability to ‘snap in’ new modules, new functions, new communications protocols should be seen a boon rather than a bane.

This modular concept was not just shown by the folks at Nexpaq - La French Tech’s Myxyty product uses a ‘add a disc’ stacking to add features. There is a video from CES describing it.  here:  43:14

I am not sure anyone should be surprised by the concept.  Hi-Fi and audio affectionados are well acquainted with the component concept, gathering the separate elements deemed appropriate and combining them as needed. 

In truth this was the inspiration for and the aspiration of plug and play - to add and remove functions and components as needed with minimal hand coding and therefore hang wringing. Add to this a growing demand for simple Mesh Networking devices, which include IoT, and the need for this architecture is growing stronger.

Nexpaq and Myxyty are the first wave int what is in fact the movement toward a decentralized central controller.  In my mind this is a far better solution than installing a central controller which requires add on boxes piled up around it. 

One of our (industry) clients biggest complaints is that ‘simple changes or additions are cost prohibitive. How often do we hear the ‘how much to make one change to the touchscreen ?!’ or ‘the budget is tight and adding another network device, wiring and programing is problematic.

While the click and add is not a total solution, being honest- there will always be some need to tweak, but it can help to reduce time and cost.

This is a concept that will take serious root and not just for the consumer off-the-shelf products. As we had to learn and accommodate the need for clients to modify their interfaces with minimal effort or offer more entry level products and services so too will we include this.

Posted by Tucker on January 19, 2016

It’s the next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways It’s still rock and roll to me ~ Billy Joel

While many in the integration community will label this concept of modular hardware with words such as ‘Silly’, ‘Limited’, and perhaps even the dreaded ‘DIY’. Personally I feel that this is the future of AV and its hardware.

Having the ability to ‘snap in’ new modules, new functions, new communications protocols should be seen a boon rather than a bane.

This modular concept was not just shown by the folks at Nexpaq - La French Tech’s Myxyty product uses a ‘add a disc’ stacking to add features. There is a video from CES describing it.  here:  43:14

I am not sure anyone should be surprised by the concept.  Hi-Fi and audio affectionados are well acquainted with the component concept, gathering the separate elements deemed appropriate and combining them as needed. 

In truth this was the inspiration for and the aspiration of plug and play - to add and remove functions and components as needed with minimal hand coding and therefore hang wringing. Add to this a growing demand for simple Mesh Networking devices, which include IoT, and the need for this architecture is growing stronger.

Nexpaq and Myxyty are the first wave int what is in fact the movement toward a decentralized central controller.  In my mind this is a far better solution than installing a central controller which requires add on boxes piled up around it. 

One of our (industry) clients biggest complaints is that ‘simple changes or additions are cost prohibitive. How often do we hear the ‘how much to make one change to the touchscreen ?!’ or ‘the budget is tight and adding another network device, wiring and programing is problematic.

While the click and add is not a total solution, being honest- there will always be some need to tweak, but it can help to reduce time and cost.

This is a concept that will take serious root and not just for the consumer off-the-shelf products. As we had to learn and accommodate the need for clients to modify their interfaces with minimal effort or offer more entry level products and services so too will we include this.