Awesome Stuff: Around The House

from the no-place-like dept

This week, we’re taking a look at some crowdfunded projects for new home accoutrements both frivolous and functional.


Years ago, someone bought me a cordless home phone that was also capable of instant messaging. All you needed to do was install the companion software on your computer, always keep it running, and then presto! You could use MSN Messenger from anywhere in the house on a tiny, terrible keyboard! Yeah, it was pretty useless. The Ily takes the same idea and makes it functional: it’s a home phone that works on a landline but also serves as a communication hub for the house, providing video and text messaging and easily communicating with phones and tablets. The core goal of the design is to be extremely easy to use and family friendly, especially for kids — it only places calls to contacts that have been pre-added to the list, and does so at a single tap of the screen, so even very young children can use it unsupervised and unaided. In addition to being a phone of its own, it can also serve as a Bluetooth extension for multiple smartphones, so all calls in a home can be made and received from one central hub.


The Acanvas is a digital art and picture frame that you hang on your wall, and there’s nothing too exceptional about that. But it’s worth a glance thanks to one fun, innovative feature: its motorized power cord that sneaks out to recharge the frame when nobody’s looking. Yup: with the help of a special connector plugged in to the nearest outlet, the Acanvas takes care of its own charging needs as discretely as possible, hiding its power cord away most of the time then extending it to the outlet as needed. Game changer? Not really. Neat feature that’s fun to watch? Definitely.


A home full of connected devices also needs to be a home full of robust WiFi access, and the Portal router might be on its way to becoming the new standard for just that. The key to Portal is simple: it can operate on a protected portion of the radio spectrum that was formerly reserved for radar, opening up about three times as much spectrum as typical WiFi. The main advantage to this is a way around congestion: in densely populated areas like large apartment buildings, there are a whole lot of routers competing for the same spectrum, invisibly slowing down everyone’s WiFi in a way they probably aren’t even aware of. Portal uses FCC-approved switching technology to move onto those other spectrum bands when the usual ones are bogged down. Of course, this is ultimately just a first step — in the long run we’ll need all routers to be accessing more spectrum and smartly deciding how to share it.

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