It twists, taps, and turns.
Image: Scott Bezek

Sometimes you come across a project that you can use in your life. The SmartKnob View, a proof-of-concept project by engineer Scott Bezek, was dropped into our chat. It's easy to imagine a future where it's available as a kit, because it doesn't seem like it's the type of project most people could go out and build themselves.

The smart knob looks like a mini Nest Thermostat, but Bezek has programmed it to have loads of modes. It can act as a spinning dial, but you could also program its motor to give you feedback and resistance, giving you the feeling of reaching an endpoint where the dial can't turn anymore. There is a lot you can do because this illusion is created through software. It can act as a turnable on-off switch, snap back to the center after you turn and release it.

When I heard about the knob, I was immediately told it would be great for controlling shower temperature, and another said they would use it as a scroll wheel or volume control. I thought it would be a great way to know how much food my cat is eating.

The smart knob can be built for less than $200 in parts, according to Bezek's page. He said that he would make a video detailing the assembly and design process for his SmartKnob.

We will probably have to put our dreams of home automation on hold for now. In the FAQ, Bezek states that the knob can't be used to control much, and that he only implemented enough firmware for the demo shown in the video. As a result of the popularity of this project, it seems like the recommended motors are no longer available for purchase.

Yes, the knob has USB-C.
Image: Scott Bezek

I still want to build one and use it as a fidget toy, even with just bare bones. I will be able to build up my skills at the point where I can actually make the smart knob if he is able to nail down a design and the parts are available.

Bezek admits that the knob is not yet a mature plug-and-play project, but he does say that he is going to keep working on it. I want a future where I can build an army of knobs to control everything in my house if he succeeds in turning this into a real thing. TV volume needs to be adjusted. There is a knob. Want to end a zoom call with a flick instead of pressing a button? There is a knob. Do you need to stop Procrastinating on writing an article? I don't know how I'm going to solve that with a knob, but I'll figure it out.

What would you use a smart knob for?