Archive for January, 2009

chumby redefined at CES

January 23, 2009

Okay, it’s hardly surprising given that we make and sell them, but we love the chumby.

But it has never been only about the chumby.

We’ve previously indicated on this blog where chumby is going: to every appropriate internet-connected screen on the planet – and not just ours, served in linen bags, encased in Italian leather, and laden with chumby charms, or even hand-painted.

Chumby is, and has always been, primarily a service.  The whole point of chumby from the beginning has been to create and deliver to you, at a glance, your personalized, always-on, always up-to-date stream of your favorite parts of your internet – on whatever type of net-connected screen you choose.  And to do this in a completely new way, appropriate for consumer electronics devices without keyboards and mice/pointers.  Just a glance (not lots of clicks) and chumby gives you something useful or amusing from your growing “internet life”.  You don’t browse for it, it’s just there:  maybe you put it there, or maybe chumby industries guessed what you might like and offered it to you, or maybe your friends and family sent it to you.  I mean if you were required to take the time to browse for the screen-licking dog or virtual bubble wrap, would you?

At CES, for the first time publicly, we showed how chumby, the service, is coming to lots of common consumer electronic devices and making them better, by giving them personalized interactive multimedia-internet capabilities, and without turning them into yet more desktop/applications/icon/turn-on-and-boot-up/browser/point-and-click/expensive/complicated computers.  Chumby is the internet — your at-a-glance internet — for consumer electronics.  For digital photo frames, for clock radios, for televisions, for home phones, for any net-connected, screen-based device.


We showed chumby-powered digital photo frames, like the one pictured above.  These are actually only “reference designs” of chumby-powered digital photo frames that we created and that are ready for an OEM, not chumby industries, to enhance with their own industrial design and style (not our simple wooden frame — that’s just for demonstration purposes) and to take to manufacturing for delivery this year and at very competitive retail prices at a store near you.  These designs are powered by processors from Samsung and from Marvell.  Digital photo frames today are disappointing products to those of us who now expect every screen-based device to be net-connected, multimedia and interactive.  Chumby changes that.  We designed and showed off the digital photo frame that we want to buy. You’ll be able to buy one too…this year.  It won’t be a chumby, it will be a connected digital photo frame, but it will be chumby-powered.  The current chumby device will do things that a chumby-powered photo frame won’t do, and vice-versa – but both will play and share chumby content.  So, if you already have a chumby account, you’ll just turn on a chumby-powered photo frame and, voila, you’ll immediately start seeing and sharing with your existing “chums” your favorite parts of the internet.

We also showed a project that we’ve been working on with Broadcom:  chumby content running on internet-connected televisions.  Just hit a button on your TV’s remote and, voila again if you already have a chumby account, there on the TV, either in miniature or full-screen, are all your favorite parts of the internet, including, but not limited to, news, weather and sports scores – with chumby, you can follow your eBay auctions, view your family’s photos, know what your Facebook friends are doing, watch Letterman’s monologues, or just stare at the PandaCam or that screen-licking dog.  Other companies were showing “widgets on TV” too, but only chumby delivers over 1,000 of your favorite parts of the internet, from big media companies like MTV and CBS, to internet stand-bys like craigslist and Twitter, not to mention all those wonderful and amazing things like chumbyland and RoboClock that just sort of emerged from chumby’s open publishing platform.

We showed other chumby-powered devices too – chumby on a touchscreen-based home phone, chumby embedded in a tabletop radio.  Of course we also had a few chumbys there too – and were shocked, shocked, that some people had never heard of us or seen them before :^)

But the highlight for chumby at CES was when Sony’s Chairman/CEO, Sir Howard Stringer, during his opening keynote presentation, demonstrated a “design study” that chumby developed with Sony for a combination photo frame/clock radio delivering custom Sony content.  If you go [here] and advance to about 21:30 into his presentation, you can see it – but you should watch the whole thing, it’s pretty amusing, especially the Tom Hanks bit :^)  This is not a product – it may never be – but you know the world has changed (for the better) when a consumer electronics giant like Sony embraces connectivity and open platforms and calls a chumby-powered device the (immediate) future.

So a little over a week ago, those at CES and those following the press buzz from home finally understood what we’ve been trying to say all along – and now you do too.  Chumby is your internet at a glance, and we’re coming to a screen near you.  Of course you don’t have to wait, buy a chumby now [here] and you can join the many thousands of people who “wake up to their internet life” and you can start living in the world that all other consumer electronics companies are just starting to wake up to themselves.


A new dimension for chumby

January 20, 2009

Those who have been following chumby for awhile know that we have always encouraged others to take what we’ve done and to push it into new directions.  We’ve been delighted with various developments (“hacks”) that build off of chumby’s electronics — our open schematics are published on our web site.  We’re thrilled when software developers make the chumby platform do something that we never even imagined it would do.  Of course, we love our amazing widget developers — always blowing us away with their cleverness and creativity.  Especially widgets like RoboClock, and Anatomy of a Clock, and chumbyland, and just too many others to name and everyone has their own favorites.

But I have always been especially delighted with emergent chumby “craft hacks,” a phenomenon fairly unique to chumby.  One of the main reasons that we made chumby soft and malleable, was the encouragement we thought it might give to the vast craft movement to bring their talents and to consider adorning things electronic.  The goal was to enable someone to hack their chumby with a seam-ripper as much as with a soldering iron.  We got some very crude craft hacks at first — remember “telechumby?”  But the crafting side of chumby has grown more sophisticated.  Susan Kare’s chumby charms were a wink to the creative crafting element, likewise her packaging concepts for chumby.  And we loved chumbyskins.  But I always hoped that someday someone would tackle the task of treating the “stock chumby” as a creative canvas itself and elevate it to a true handcrafted work of art.

Sara Antoinette Martin did exactly that with her hand-painted, hand-crafted “goldfish” chumbys — only 5 painstakingly produced and now for sale at chumby’s online store (well, actually only 4 are available because I’m buying one myself).



We love kidrobot, part of Sara’s resume, and have been inspired by their design ethos.  Sara’s designer chumbys are really something to behold — they look even cooler in reality, and these pictures don’t do them justice.  If you want the most amazing chumby ever, this is it.  They’re not cheap, but for something that an artist of Sara’s caliber slaved over for weeks….?  A bargain!

We hope that Sara’s efforts will inspire other artists to try their hands at creating custom chumbys.  If you’re an artist, are taken with chumby, and do great work, let us know.  If this current experiment is popular, we would love nothing more than to populate chumby’s store with amazing, limited edition masterpieces.

I only wish that all of my sterile, mass-produced electronic products had this kind of hand-crafted soul.

Inaugural chumby hack for Obama

January 18, 2009

As others have already suggested, this would look magnificent on our new President’s desk:


Red “Cold War Era” chumbyphone

Obama should put these widgets on it:

Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle


Obama – Presidential Bobblehead

I so want one of these myself.

Nicely done, Daniel Gentlemen and Make!

Good luck, Mr. President.