Glenn Fleishman's latest WiFiNetNews podcast interviews Steve Tomlin, the chairman of Chumby Industries
. Chumby is an exciting startup that's making a small, WiFi-enabled, squeezable bean-bag computer that is a delight to hack and play with. You can design your own soft enclosure, install your own OS, write your own apps, or just download programs that do everything from play music and video to run your Chumby as an alarm-clock.
Chumby's co-father is Andrew "Bunnie" Huang, the hardware-hacker virtuoso who broke the crypto on the Xbox and paved the way for all the Xbox hacks that followed (documented in his extraordinary book Hacking the Xbox). Bunnie is a passionate advocate for hardware hackers and software hackers, and it shows in Chumby's open design.
Listening to Tomlin describe the investment logic behind Chumby is a breath of fresh air, news of a company that understands how much money you can make by cooperating with your customers.
The device, in prototype, is small, designed for the “kids,” and sports a Wi-Fi adapter, an AC power plug, a small, color touchscreen, and an open architecture. The company wants people to hack the software, hardware, and even the device’s case with their own modifications. It’s not precisely open source, but it’s all open. They hope the device will ship in the second quarter of 2007 for about $150. They also expect that it could be licensed or replicated in many forms–they have released or shortly will release the parts list and schematics among other parameters–and they’re curious what results.
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