Even before the mass adoption of mobile devices and IoT devices, technologists were already envisioning how to design technologies to evade the sense of unease caused by an invasive relationship with our devices. Written by two Xerox PARC scientists in 1995, “Designing Calm Technology” laid the groundwork for technologies operating in our periphery without the constant invasiveness we’ve sadly become accustomed to living with today. A Japanese team of technologists seem to have taken the message to heart, designing mui, an organic interactive interface equipped to allow us to stay calm and carry on without disconnecting.

Designed to soften the “noise” of a perpetually connected modern life, mui proposes a calmer flow of information invited into the home, integrating both a tactile and visual interface hidden into a 14.2″ length of sanded sycamore, cherry, maple or ash wood. Unlike other smart home devices, the wall mounted panel of wood takes on the appearance of furniture rather than a typical IoT device, only illuminating when touched.

Equipped with wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity, the 200 x 32 pixel LED display and capacitive touch panel hidden inside permits users to view and control an array of smart home options: dimming lights, viewing messages, controlling an HVAC system, access weather forecasts, date/time, and the ability to record/listen to voice messages. As envisioned by the Kyoto-based mui operates as a digital landing strip for the family where users can share information without intruding upon each other.

Inspired by “Airplane Mode”, mui also includes a Do Not Disturb setting programmable to any desired span of time.

Co-founders Kaz Oki, Nobu Hirobe, and Mark Nomura’s attempt to redirect technology more toward a role similar to furniture – for practicality and daily demands of home life, rather than sensory invasive options currently demanding attention away from friends, family, work, and rest – is a noble idea. Whether a digital generation born into “always on, always available” is capable and willing to migrate their attentions to something like the mui is yet to be seen.

Interested? mui is currently seeking backing over at Kickstarter.

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