Safety, convenience, efficiency, entertainment — whatever got you into the world of home automation, a love of gizmos and gadgets probably plays a part in your enthusiasm. If so, your communications tool of choice is a smartphone, and you're always looking for ways to integrate the device with the other high-tech toys you use to control your home.

If that sounds like you, say hello to the Ubi. It's a wireless, voice-activated control center built to bridge the gap between your phone and pretty much anything else that draws power. Unlike the smartphone-friendly software packaged with most automation products, the Ubi isn't bound to one specific manufacturer's products or services. Instead, anyone with the proper tools and technical know-how can build an app for it. Here are just a few reasons it could change the future of home automation.

It's portable

As powerful as it is, the Ubi's dimensions are decidedly cozy. Combine the tiny form factor with wireless capability and you have a portable assistant perfectly suited to stay at home or come along when you travel. Worried your cell phone's tinny alarm won't wake you up while you're staying in a hotel on business? Connect Ubi to your phone and let the speakers on its front face handle all the noise making. Need to take a crucial call with your arms wrist-deep in dishwater? The built-in microphone and voice command capability will make sure you miss neither the conversation nor a word the caller says when you tell the device to answer.

It's far more than just a Bluetooth speaker, however. With sensors built to monitor everything from ambient light to temperature, not to mention its open attitude towards app developers and hardware manufacturers, it's easy to imagine it becoming an inseparable partner on the road or at home.

It's flexible

When it comes to developing applications, smartphones are little more than several pieces of hardware (cameras and LED lights, for instance) waiting for a creative developer to put them to good use. Apply that same philosophy to a device like the Ubi and you get a sense of the device's potential. Though its developers have promised a diverse collection of apps at launch, the real excitement will likely come once third-party app makers get a chance to play with its capabilities. That means your existing devices could very well support connectivity. If not, others on the market will.

It's easy to use

Saying the Ubi's name is all it takes to wake the device up. Giving it commands is just as easy, thanks to the advanced voice-recognition technology under the hood. In other words, bizarre syntax and stiff, awkward wording are not the norm: conversational English will work just fine.

Let's say you have a wireless, web-connected thermostat in your home network - for example, a Home Networks Wi-Fi Thermostat. Let's further assume you're feeling really lazy, the panel is across the room, and it's getting cold outside. With an Ubi, you can avoid the freezing-cold floor as long as you'd like. Say the device's name, tell it to hike the temperature up to a more suitable number, and enjoy the warmth.

It's crowdsourced

Cool tech aside, buying the device once it's released will also mean supporting the three engineers who came up with the concept and, with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, built the entire business around the device from the ground up. Whether you contributed to the initial funding drive or didn't know it existed until you read this, it always feels good to know you're supporting the small guys in a tech industry inhabited by giants, especially when the small guys are putting out products as cool as this.

Final call

Even if that last point has no bearing on your opinion, this device is certainly worth a look for any home automation aficionado looking for that one device to tie it all together. It's a flexible, powerful, adaptive and one-of-a-kind product sure to impress homeowners and guests. The Ubi should be out in 2013, so consider a preorder if you want to be in a state of tech bliss come launch day.