I think it's safe to say that, at some time or another, we've all wished we had a squadron of ninjas at our disposal.
Small injustices happen to us everyday. Litter bugs tossing fast food bags out of their car window. Loud cell phone talkers in the library. City folk who don't clean up after their dog has done its business. If only we could mutter "deploy the ninjas" in times like these.
Never fear. Mark Wotton is on it. After being victimized by some hooligan stealing his newspaper, Wotton is calling on some pint-sized ninjas to help restore justice.
In all fairness, they're not real ninjas, but they still kick a lot of butt. They're Ninja Blocks — small computerized, sensor-equipped boxes that Wotton helped develop. The boxes can connect to the Internet and have the ability to carry out small tasks if they are triggered.
For example, using an online service called Ninja Cloud, Wotton could use a Ninja Block to rig up a motion detector to snap photos of the Daily Bugle burglar.
But Ninja Blocks aren't just for avenging petty theft. They can also be used for maintaining peace on the domestic front. They could be programmed to turn on a hall light when a baby cries or sound an alarm when pets jump on furniture.
"Chances are people will have good ideas" for the devices "we've never thought of," Wotton told Technology Review.
A basic Ninja Block comes with a Linux board, a customized Arduino platform, a temperature sensor, an accelerometer and multicolor LEDs that give alerts. Preorders are available at Ninja Block's website for $156 and are expected to be shipped in May.