Knocki turns your tables and walls into smart device controllers

August 19, 2016


By most standards, Knocki has had a home run Kickstarter campaign, blowing way past its $35,000 target with more than $1.1 million committed.

But it sounds like CEO Jake Boshernitzan is still hoping for more support in the campaign’s final hours (it’s scheduled to end at 3am Eastern on Saturday). After all, he said that Knocki deliberately set the campaign target on the low side, since the company had already raisedseed funding.

“We already have the capital and the resources where we can actually get the units produced in whatever volume,” Boshernitzan said. “Really, the goal of the campaign was to get the production volume higher … I don’t think we want to have 50 thousand units, but 10 thousand, 15 thousand, 25 thousand — which is well beyond the volume we’re shipping out — would be perfectly sustainable for our strategy.”

Let’s back up for a second and talk about what Knocki is actually trying to do. It’s a small, wireless device that you can attach to surfaces like walls and tables. You can then tap those surfaces to control other smart devices like lights and thermostats — the pitch is to “make any surface a smart surface.”

The basic idea might sound familiar, but Boshernitzan said that one of the most important principles behind Knocki is that “simple is better.” In his view, these kinds of taps are one of the simplest ways that people can interact with their various Internet-connected devices.

He acknowledged that there’s a lot of interest in exploring voice-based interfaces, but he sees that as complementary to Knocki, because voice control isn’t always the best solution — like if you’re in a loud room. Or imagine you’re going to sleep, and you want to turn off the light, lower the thermostat and set the alarm. Instead of giving each command separately, wouldn’t be great if you could just tap your Knocki-enabled nightstand?

I liked the vision, and I was impressed by the quick demo that Boshernitzan gave me before the campaign launched, but I wondered if the regular consumers really have that many smart devices.

“If you purchase Knocki and don’t have a Nest thermostat and you don’t have Philips Hue light bulbs, if you don’t have all these different smart devices, there’s a lot of capability even if you just have a WiFi network at home and a smartphone,”Boshernitzan said.

For example, you could attach a Knocki to a table and then create a tap pattern that you use whenever you’re trying to locate your phone. Or you could attach a Knocki to your door and get notifications anytime someone is knocking.

You can check out the Knocki Kickstarter campaign here. As of this writing, there are still a few “super early bird” offers available, where you can pay $79 for a Knocki, with scheduled shipping in December.

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