When first unveiled, pixel display digital frames seemed the obvious replacement for traditional photo frames. Luddite parents and grandparents, the primary market for the devices, initially created a healthy market for them. But in time, due to a combination of price, poor construction, limited features and storage, user control complexity, and so-so display quality, digital photo frames eventually were relegated to the bargain bins of electronics discounters and drugstore aisles.
New York startup, Electric Objects is taking another stab at the digital photo frame, believing higher resolution frames and a smarter modern design could jumpstart digital artwork and photographs returning to our walls…a computer designed with the sole purpose of being inspirationally decorative.
The inspiration behind Electric Objects’ EO1 is non-digital in experience. Designed to be unobtrusive, the matte wood, white or black framed finish offers a presence similar to a photograph or painting on the wall, rather than a digital device. But inside is indeed a computer (1GHz Dual ARM Cortex processor with graphics acceleration, 1GB of RAM, and 2GB of flash storage), one without a keyboard, mouse, noticeable GUI elements, all powered by a single power cord.
Connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the digital photo frame’s 23″ 1080p, 1920 x 1080 IPS smart-display requires about the same power as a light bulb and pulls images directly from a user curated library of images using a web or mobile app, or from Electric Objects’ catalog of artists/designers and users’ community. Even better yet, those seeking visual inspiration can turn on feeds from the New York Public Library, The Boston Globe, Behance, Giphy, Museum Of The Moving Image, Digg, and to.be to populate their EO1 (this potential customer hopes for Instagram, Tumblr, and Flickr compatibility).
Jake Levine, Electric Objects’ CEO, notably quotes a 1991 piece penned by Mark Weiser, a chief scientist at Xerox PARC, revealing the spirit of the company’s project:
Machines that fit the human environment, instead of forcing humans to enter theirs, will make using a computer as refreshing as taking a walk in the woods.
– Mark Weiser, The Computer for the 21st Century
Developer Electric Objects also plans to release their SDK to developers to explore additional “smart” features. For example, future options may connect the EO1 with online weather report services, keep tabs with the time/calendar, and other real world data to affect images displayed by color, content, or brightness. The display may embody a minimalist design, but the designers imagine the EO1 aligned with other Internet of Things smart devices as an evolving device, eventually connecting and responding to user activities and environmental factors in ways yet unimagined.
The question is whether a dedicated display – no matter how unobtrusively beautiful as the EO1 appears to be – will be considered as worthy of investment in an era when we carry all of our photos locally or on the cloud on our mobile devices. In other words, does decor matter in a digital era?
Full information about Electric Objects EO1 digital photo frame available here.