Last weekend at Foo Camp, a small company named Chumby Industries showed off their newest prototype creation. Simply called the Chumby, the compact device sports a 266MHz ARM processor, 32MB SDRAM, a good-sized 3.5 inch LED backlit LCD display with QVGA resolution and Wi-Fi capabilities. Input and output features such as a touchscreen, ambient light sensor, squeeze sensors and a USB port round out the package. So what's so special about this thing?
The Chumby with two example widgets being shown.
The Chumby was built with MAKErs and hackers in mind. It has a reasonable MSRP of 150 USD when it goes mainstream and is completely documented - software and hardware. For example, check out the circuit board specs (warning: PDF link). Don't like the way it looks? No problem, open it up and put it in your own case. Don't like the current functionality of the software? Write your own software!
The appeal of the Chumby, to me at least, is the ability to write small, yet useful widgets for it that can handle any task - and the fact that it has Wi-Fi is all the better. Chumby supports current standards like Flash Lite 2.0 (almost equivalent to Flash 7) and already has an active developer community adding on to things like the default flickr photo viewer widget, digg widget and Google News widget. The Chumby is turning out to be the anti-iPod as Christine calls it; it's open source, fun and hackable.
Unfortunately the Chumby won't be available to common folk until sometime in 2007. I've eagerly tried to get my hands on one by going the developer route. I would like to create some nifty Flash widgets with what I'll be learning in one of my studio courses this semester. I wonder if it supports things like Google and Yahoo! maps. If so, I have just the mashup in mind.
So what do you guys think about it? I'm obviously a little biased as the first thing I thought when seeing the Chumby was wanting to rip it open and see how I could make it suit my needs. Summary: the Chumby is a cheap, fully-featured and open source platform that will lead to great creations.