It doesn’t always have to be a touchscreen: Even a plain wooden board can serve as a display and control surface – if it comes from Japan. Mui Lab (link) has a radically different approach when developing its control of smart home devices. The start-up company from the ancient imperial city of Kyoto has already caused a stir at trade fairs such as CES and IFA on several occasions and received awards for its design, which combines Japanese closeness to nature with high-tech. The smart planks were even recently on display at the furniture fair Salone del Mobile in Milan.
New generation of Mui Board
Just in time for the kick-off event of the smart home standard Matter in Amsterdam, Mui Lab has announced a new edition of its Mui Board. The MuiBoard 2nd Gen will support Matter and, like its predecessor, will have a touch-sensitive surface made of wood veneer that is subtly illuminated by LEDs in the background.
“In today’s digital society, technology constantly draws our attention away from family and tasks at hand. We aim to »calm« not only individual digital devices but also our whole living environment, and the interoperability of Matter devices helps us do just that”, explains CEO Kaz Oki.
The new standard would bring some advantages for users. The first Mui Board, launched as a Kickstarter project in 2018, mainly supported Sonos speakers and Philips Hue, as well as the online service IFTTT for connecting to other devices. A Matter connection should open the door to many more devices in the home for the second generation.
Mui Labs is also looking for business partners to bring its technology – called Mui Platform – onto other surfaces. For all practical purposes, it can also be used to transform furniture and other objects into user interfaces. The everyday environment thus becomes a largely invisible, low-distraction and almost meditative smart home control. Videos of the original Mui Board on YouTube show what this can look like:
However, the first generation from 2019 has not been available for a long time. After the electronics trade show CES 2023, the financing of the MuiBoard 2nd Gen is supposed to start – again as a crowdfunding campaign and mainly in the United States. Outside the US, friends of the reduced Japanese design will have to wait longer.
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