The Armchair Designer: Chumby
by Harry / December 15, 2006

As in armchair quarterback, criticizing from the sidelines. The Armchair Designer is a new occasional post with observations on object design in general but also with an eye to the future. I’m not a trained designer, but I have been in product management for years and most of the objects you see on MoCo Loco are “products” - products that are usually at the beginning of an arc called a product life cycle. I love the aesthetics, which is the reason I created MoCo Loco, but I’m also keenly aware of the product and marketing aspects of design. Today’s post is about opportunity in the form of Chumby. Chumby is a compact device that uses the wireless internet to fetch information from the web: music, the latest news, box scores, animations, etc. It can also exchange photos and messages and it’s always on. Chumby isn’t a product per se, it’s a feature enabler. It’s a blank canvas that you fill with whatever you want. It’s made to be hacked, modded, and what I find especially interesting - integrated into other objects. Object design is evolving at a rapid pace with new materials, rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing. The next frontier is embedded intelligence (see how RFID is evolving here) and interactivity. Chumby is a very open platform for interactivity that in my opinion object designers should look at and start to play with. The best part - it’s free if you can convince them (see FREE SAMPLE on page left). Information and objects are converging; my favorite example is the SMS message mirror, a practical and beautiful message board. I’m looking forward to the smart objects that Chumby will spawn. Are you an "armchair designer" too? Do you have products you'd like to see? leave a comment.

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