Earlier this year I caught up with Ian Bernstein, the brains behind Sphero and the extremely clever Forceband. As Ian demonstrated how to control the BB8 bot using the Forceband (blowing my mind in the process) I mentioned that the Forceband would be amazing for other tasks such as controlling other hardware and apps. Ian, as polite as ever, smiled, nodded and continued on with his demonstration.
Little did I know at the time, but Ian had already turned his considerable intellect and engineering nous to the task of making the Forceband work with more than the Sphero BB8. Now the cat is out of the bag – it turns out that the Forceband now has an IFTTT app that’ll let it work with and IFTTT connected devices and apps.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the last year, you’ll probably already know that the Force Band wearable has been available for a wee while. It resembles a star wars themed G-Shock watch and uses accelerometers and gyroscopic sensors. These let the user drive Sphero BB8 droid using some simple "force gestures".
Driving a wee rolling robot using nothing more than a set of simple gestures feels a lot like magic. Moving BB8 involves the classic Jedi push gesture (straight out of the Star Wars movie franchise). Steering BB8 involves moving your arm and so on. It is incredibly intuitive and so cleverly executed.
You pair the Forceband with IFTTT (the online service that lets you craft simple bits of code that use one source to trigger specific actions in other IFTTT connect services). One particularly clever example of IFTTT in action is having it turn on the Belkin WEMO light-switch. That switch controls my hallway lights, but only when it detects my smartphone is within a certain distance of my house after dark.
Now the Force Band gets a similar measure of control over smart home gadgets. In practice this means that a sweeping gesture can turn on lights – it’s a great dinner party trick. The effect is verily cool indeed. There are already a bunch of IFTTT recipes available for the Force Band. Several have Ian’s own brand of humour clearly been woven through them. They include "Play the Imperial March" and "post your Jedi wisdom to Twitter".
Getting set up isn’t difficult - simply Create a Sphero account. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to verify your email address. Once that’s done head to IFTTT.com and - if you don’t already have one - create an IFTTT account. Be sure that your IFTTT username is the same as you’ve used for your Sphero account. Last but by no means least, Search for the Force Band channel on the IFTTT site and voila! Lots of pre-made recipes are yours (creating your own is also fun and dead easy too).
So the multi-billion-dollar question is this: even though the force is strong in this wee gadget, will it being able to use it to apply a bunch of gestures to control the many connected devices that are IFTTT friendly be useful? Probably not so much.
This is of course the wrong question. The right question is simple – “how cool will an IFTTT Forceband be?” The answer is of course an emphatic “hell yeah!”