Hey, you sass that hoopy Bill Napier? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is.

Nimbus (by Quirky)


I got a new toy for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad!), a Nimbus. It's an internet connected mini-dashboard, designed to convey status of things to you at a glance. Basically 4 little dials with a little text display on each dial.

Out of the box setup was a breeze. Configured it to jump on Wifi via my phone and started setting up the dials. My current configuration is like this:

  • Fitbit steps (LCD shows step count, dial shows how close to goal)
  • Weather (basically temperature)
  • Commute time to work
  • Commute time home

It also handles things like # of unread emails in your gmail, # of likes on your last facebook post, etc.

So, pretty basic functionality in a pretty good looking pacakge. My only complaint is that the hands on the dial can be kind hard to read in low light. Maybe a later hardware revision will make the dial hands glow. One can only hope.

But that's not all. Earlier this month they release their own API to allow you to add custom data sources to your dial.


API design is hard. Most of the time when a company decides to add an API to their product, it's pretty much an afterthought. Maybe something they'll give to one of their junior programmers so they can check a box for Program Management. As a result, most API's are half-assed, hard to work with, and don't have 100% feature coverage.

Not this API. Somebody sat down and decided to do it right. The API has enough functionality that you can stop using the app on your phone to configure it. (Initial setup still requires the phone). This is in addition to defining custom data sources.

So I took the API for a spin last night. In about 2 hours (or so, I wasn't on the clock) I was able to hook enough stuff up to show stock prices on a dial. It was pretty amazing to see the commands running on my laptop and then within seconds the dials update.

Future Development

So I talked about the stock ticker data source. I think that's pretty cool, but there are some other things I want to see.

Remeber above when I used two dials, one for outbound and one for inbound commute? Why waste a dial? I know the times during the day in which I need to see what, so I'm going to program it up such that I can see my "to work" commute until about noon, and then my "to home" commute for the rest of the evening. I could even get fancy and start adding in commute time to other events (maybe reading it off gcal?).

I also have a BeerBug on order. Would be nice too hook up the data pushed from that (fermentation temp and gravity) to a dial. I could then know when the beer is done brewing by looking at the dial.

Got any other ideas? Let me know!

Api Docs: http://docs.wink.apiary.io/

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Bill Napier

Bill Napier

Technologist, Gadget Lover, Father. Doing full time work at Google and part time work on everything else.