The Chumby, the wifi internet-connected news-gathering squishy clock radio
By Mike Hanlon
December 5, 2006
December 6, 2006 The chumby is a modern day equivalent of the clock radio, but it’s very different in what it will enable you to do, and enables you to appropriately introduce or conduct your day just as you would wish. It’s a really low-cost, WiFi, Internet-connected information device that will accompany you in the bedroom (or any other room) and wake you up. The starting point was the humble clock radio concept of audio information presentation, but it was extended into multimedia and is designed to connect up to the information resources you require, such as pictures that your friends send you from their cellphones, messages from your IM buddies, your blogs and social network sites. In fact, you can set up your chumby to show you almost any information you want, and anything your friends want to send you. It will wake you up with anything you wish - AM or FM radio, MP3 files or podcasts from the Internet, from your computer, or even from your iPod. It can display your daily horoscope and the weather, and a whole community of artists and animators can send their creations around the chumby network to entertain you. Chumby is the product of a group of hackers who wanted to create something interesting, useful and different. It doesn’t look like a clock radio - it’s soft, and squishy and you communicate with it by tapping or squeezing it and in the true spirit of open collaboration, its open and hackable and they encourage everyone to “pull out its electronic guts and reprogram it.” There are alternative skins for your chumby so you can do whatever you want to personalize it. Several hundred chumbys are currently being beta tested with a view to a commercial product some time in in the 2007-2008 time frame with a target retail price of US$150. If you are a serious alpha-geek hacker, they can be convinced to give you a prototype.
Clearly, a chumby isn't intended to replace electronics you already own. It doesn't have a keyboard, so don't plan on using it to deal with your backlog of email. The chumby is designed to let you stay connected to your Internet life in locations where it might be fun and convenient.