Ninja Blocks are a fun little Kickstarter project focused on the “Internet of Things” trend. Ninja Blocks may not seem directly related to the lighting industry, but I propose that this system actually serves as an excellent model for the architecture of next-generation lighting control systems.
Clipping a few of their descriptions into one:
Ninja Blocks are simple but powerful little computers. Plug in sensors to monitor things like temperature, motion, light. Plug in actuators to make stuff happen, like turning devices on or taking pictures. This is the Internet of Things the way it should be: Ninja Cloud is seamlessly integrated into your Ninja Blocks, allowing them to easily listen and talk to web services such as Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Weather and more. Ninja Cloud makes controlling your things as simple as writing down a recipe. Select the Events that you want to watch and define Reactions. Both Events and Reactions can be physical or virtual. We group Events and Reactions in Channels. For instance there are channels for temperature and for Facebook. The temperature channel has Events like “above temperature” and the Facebook channel has Reactions like “update my status”.
My hypothesis is that in the near future, there will be no more dedicated “lighting control systems” with dedicated, proprietary formats. Every light fixture, sensor, or control interface will simply connect to the Ethernet, to the “cloud”. All of the system intelligence will reside in the cloud, not on some grossly overpriced, proprietary piece of hardware sitting in an electrical closet somewhere. Designers can experiment with these blocks in their office, save their conditional programming, scene settings, and media content straight to the “cloud”, and immediately access this information once a construction project is completed for expedited commissioning.