Chumby, the next step in clock radios, revealed
An Internet-era successor to your bedside clock-radio was unveiled this weekend at Foo Camp, an exclusive geek conference north of San Francisco, and is getting lots of love on the blogs this morning. And perhaps with good reason. The device is called Chumby, and it looks a bit like the name suggests: unassuming and squeezable.
At its most basic, the gizmo, which will be priced around $150 when it hits the market next March, will wake you up in the morning. But instead of FM or AM radio, it can play MP3 files streamed off the Internet, or fire up a podcast, or deliver headlines from your favorite news site. As the Chumby creators explain on their web site, "What we decided to build was a really low-cost, wireless (Wi-Fi), Internet-connected device that will sit on your bedside table (or in your bathroom, or kitchen, or living room, or maybe even plug into your car somehow...) that could do a lot more than this old clock-radio (or your cell phone, if that’s what you use to wake yourself up.)"
What's capturing the collective geek imagination is that Chumby is entirely open to modifications -- not just in its software, but also in its hardware. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch got his hands on an early Chumby and explains it this way: "Don’t like something about your Chumby? Hack it. The founders not only allow it but are actively encouraging modifications... The hardware can easily be ripped out of the shell and put inside something else. The hardware itself can be hacked... Use the USB port to take a thumb drive with MP3s and build a music player widget, for example. Or a DivX player. Or use Chumby to control the air conditioning in your house. Or as a remote control for your television. Etc."
All that hacking sounds interesting, but the damn thing better work when we just need to get up in time for our flight. And one other question. We can't help but notice that the gadget's name rhymes with a certain plasticine figure from our youth. What's with the geek love affair with Gumby?
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