Skip to main content

Reinventing the digital picture frame

Seasoned startup pro Jake Levine is on a mission to reinvent the digital picture frame.

With his new startup, Electric Objects, the former Betaworks employee has crafted a smart, Internet-connected screen that displays art without the faffing of SD cards – so often required for standard digital picture frames.

Levine was inspired by ideas that sprung from Xerox Parc thinkers, that an era of "calm technology" would follow the PC era, wherein IT would occupy the peripheries of our existence.

"For the last 40 years computers have been about increasing our productivity or letting us play games," said Levine to The Verge. "We're building an ambient computer that contributes to your environment even if you don't interact with it."

Read more: 10 suggestions for better organising and tidying up your PC and digital life

Following the company's achievement of $1.7 million (£990,000) in venture capital, Electric Objects will launch a Kickstarter campaign, making a device called "EO1" available to anyone. The $299 model packs a 23in, 1080p display with black or white frame options, plus a wall mount. A dual core processor with 2GB of RAM runs an adapted version of Android suitable for image and animation display.

Amazingly, according to Electric Objects' Bill Cowles, the amount of electricity consumed by the device is the same as the average light bulb.

A built-in light sensor keeps the picture ambient by responding to changes in lighting conditions accordingly. Without touch-sensitivity or other developed features, the EO1 is designed to be left alone by the owner until a change is desired.

"Distance helps preserve the kind of relationship we have with physical works of art," said Levine.

Read more: Can big data be art? A closer look at CODE_n and CeBIT 2014

Alongside the physical display, Electric Objects are looking to foster a community of creators to produce original works for the medium. Zoë Salditch, formerly of the digital arts organisation Rhizome, has been hired to furnish relationships with independent artists and galleries. This will lead to an app store of sorts, where users can download new pieces from contributors.

"The irony is not lost on me  —  that in 2014 our idea of an exploration is a return to what for centuries has been the norm: stillness, silence, contemplation," Levine wrote in a blog post.

Porthole Ad

Something for the new office perhaps?