Use the plank to control your home's smart devices or ask Google Assistant questions
Both an exercise in minimalism and an unintended satire on our obsession with all things ‘smart’, Mui’s plank of wood is an elegant piece of design. Turned off, it looks like something you’d see leaning against the wall in your shed. Graze its touch-sensitive interface and, well, it still looks like that, but also works as a hub for your home’s various internet-connected devices.
Cleverly, the Mui embeds its LCD display into the wood itself. Tap on the plank and a home screen will appear, including information about the weather and time. Cycle through the icons and you’ll be able to control a room’s lighting, temperature, etc; connecting to Sonos, Nest and Philips Hue devices.
It can also receive and display text messages, and comes with Google Assistant in-built. The downside is that Mui’s plank has nothing in the way of a speaker, so your queries are instead answered by text displayed on the wood. There’s a microphone to take your voice commands, but you’ll need to press the display to wake it up when you want to ask a question.
The Japanese company is showcasing its interface at CES 2019, following a successful Kickstarter campaign where it raised over $114,000 (£89,390). Building on that momentum, it’s now looking to raise additional funds through Indiegogo InDemand, which is aimed at entrepreneurs at the production stage of a project.
Mui is aiming to get its wooden smart home interface to Kickstarter backers by September 2019. It will be available to Indiegogo InDemand backers for $549 (£431) when the campaign launches this week, and will then jump to $999 (£784) when it eventually goes to retail.
That’s a lot of money. The company has said that price is likely to go down if it finds a big enough audience for the product. If they do, it could bring a sense of tactility back into a space that has been largely dominated by voice control. Here’s hoping they find some success, touch on wood.