What is a Chumby?

21 11 2006

Friends of chumbyA bedside clock with a wireless internet connection? Has the world gone mad?

Ah, but it’s so much more than just a clock. I’d like to introduce you to Chumby, “a compact device that can act like a clock radio, but is way more fun”. Chumby can piggyback off your wireless internet connection to interact with the web, with the convenience and ubiquity of an “always on” device.

It’s being designed as an open platform – meaning that developers and users can create or download widgets to display photos from Flickr, news from Google, stock quotes, moon phases, horoscopes… even a daily Shakespearean Insult.

It features a touch screen, but also utilises a brand new kind of mobile interface – a “squeeze sensor” that lets you communicate with it by squeezing or tapping it. It lacks a keyboard, so it’s not intended to become a workhorse; rather, it serves as a conduit of information and functionality – an extension of Web 2.0 into the “real” world. The Chumby could awaken you, not with dodgy FM radio, but rather, with your favourite news, podcast, vodcast, RSS feed, or music. You could even create Flash-based learning interactions and have them delivered to students’ Chumbys each day.

The makers of Chumby are claiming it will hit the market at really low cost – under US$150 retail. If anyone’s interested in developing educational applications for the Chumby, the makers have a limited supply of Chumbys to give away to those most deserving – pitch your idea on the Chumby website.

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