Chumby is basically your window to the always on Internet world. Its designers took the humble electric alarm clock and gave it a high-tech twist. It is basically an embedded computer which provides internet access via Wi-Fi connection. Through this connection users can access the internet, stream news, photos and video and run various software widgets. Chumby hasn’t been created to replace any device you already have, it is totally up to you how you customize it to your lifestyle.
Go on: Hack the Chumby
Chumby is often referred to as open source, but it doesn’t fit into the established definition. Chumby actively encourage you to hack into the hardware, once you’ve agreed to a licensing agreement that lets you use the Chumby HDK to hack the device. For more ideas, see Eric Gregori of Freescale’s blog Can You Hack A Chumby? See the Chumby in action in the video below. (The video starts with slides, describing the Chumby and the Robot Demo. There is no sound during the slide show. Demo videos and sounds starts about 1:40 in.)
The Chumby is much the size of a softball, measuring 3.5" wide x 4" tall x 3.5" deep. Infact, the original classic version was Italian leather, but it was changed to a plastic exterior to keep the ticket price down. It is built around a Freescale MCIMX233CJM4C ARM926 CPU running at 454 Mhz and includes a 3.5” LCD colour touch screen, MB DDR SDRAM, Internal microSD card firmware and a 1 USB 2.0 high speed port. The original Chumby classic was built around an ARM9 running at 350 Mhz, but as the concept has developed, so has the speed required.
The choices and apps are endless
Choice is the only problem you are going to have. Once you’ve plugged the Chumby in you can create your favourites from over 1,500 apps last count in 30 categories, ranging from news, stock quotes, shopping and sport to just plain weird, including a stress relief app that lets you burst bubbles on bubble wrap!
One of the big advantages of Chumby is that it has a very active community which is eager to contribute in from of new Widgets. So there is no way you are ever going to get bored with what is available, because there is always something new and exciting around the corner.
Connect me to my communications
If you go cold turkey, if you can’t see tweets and emails, there are apps to help you out. A tweet app lets you check your profile stats, see recent tweets from people you follow or the public timeline, and update your status straight from your Chumby. An email app lets you see your most recent messages in your POP3-enabled Inbox, and press any message to view the body of the e-mail.
See Chumby (and ARM Powered Corvette) in action at ARM Techcon
In fact, we so can’t get enough of Chumby that it is about to hop from our bedside into the car. QNX Software Systems, which is demoing its ARM powered digital instrument cluster and ARM powered digital instrument cluster and multimedia head unit [VIDEO] at ARM Technology Conference (Tech con) this week, has spotted the appeal of the Chumby. It will enable automakers and automotive tier one suppliers to build multimedia head units and other in-car infotainment products that provide access Chumby’s growing army of apps via its QNX CAR environment. For more details, Paul Leroux of QNX wrote a recent blog: ARM-Powered Corvette by QNX Redefines Connected Driving at Techcon
To be honest, it isn’t easy explaining exactly what a Chumby does in particular. It’s similar to a smartphone, but at just over $100 it does a great job at 24/7 internet connection running Pandora and other internet radio stations and still provides a good old fashioned wake up call, be it via MP3 files or podcasts. And if that isn’t enough, there are over 200 clock faces to choose from!
Life would be boring without a bit of eccentricity. The Chumby is so adorably whacky, I defy you not to fall in love with it!
Jan Howells, editor IQ Magazine and IQ Online, ARM, is a gadget queen. Jan tracks the globe for innovative and exciting ARM powered products to cover and feature in IQ magazine or IQ Online. Jan was key in pulling together devices and video footage for the ARM Powered Showcase at this year’s Techcon. She has an in-depth knowledge of the home and lifestyle consumer technology market and a special interest in green, sustainable computing. She holds a postgraduate degree in journalism/communications.
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