Electric Imp Lets You Control All Your Stuff Remotely

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A new electronic card promises to give mere mortals superhuman powers. One of these little suckers could let you start brewing coffee from bed, get a text when the laundry is done washing and even wait until electric rates are cheapest to start recharging a laptop. No astronomical "smart home" investment needed.

The tiny cards come from a startup called Electric Imp co-founded by engineers Hugo Fiennes, Kevin Fox and Peter Hartley, whose creds include working on Gmail and the iPhone. They named their company after ARPANET's classic 1960s "interface message processor," or "IMP," used to communicate with other computers.

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Housed in an SD card shape, each Imp contains a processor, standard Wi-Fi, an antenna and encryption. In the near-term, users can attach the cards to any electronic device using some of the company's circuit boards, according to Gizmodo's Max Honan. DIYers are invited to geek out with several different development kits, available for purchase next month.

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Adding connectivity to appliances means the potential for all sorts of helpful applications, including many that used to be limited to prototypes or expensive appliance upgrades. Mashable's Erik Shute (video) rattled off theoreticals: starting a coffee maker with a text, opening sprinklers only in ideal weather, having Christmas tree lights automatically go off when the tree needs more water.

Users can let their imaginations run wild, creating new programs through an Electric Imp browser to control newly connected devices securely. According to the company, the card will retail at $25 in late June.

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The startup also said it's working with vendors to create Imp-enabled products. "The premise is that hardware makers are not great at making cloud services, so they can just add an Imp slot and let Imp take care of the Web interface, Liz Gannes of AllThingsD pointed out.

As much as I can't wait to have more options for glorious remote-controlled laziness, the potential for these things to get hacked does freak me out a little. Mischevious minds could make "Poltergeist" look like a day at the park.

Photo: This Electric Imp card promises to let users control electronic devices and appliances remotely. Credit: Electric Imp/Gizmodo.

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