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.

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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
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Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson

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