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Wooden wonders

I love when wood is combined with high-tech gadgetry. I love it even more when the wood makes the technology better.

Regular readers know I’m enamored of technology and stay up-to-date on what’s out there, which is why I followed the coverage of the recent Consumer Electronics Show with interest. But this year’s CES introduced a new gadget that merges wood and a smart screen, and it’s waymo cool.

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The device, called “mui,” is a smart information and control panel that can display time, weather and all the usual info; control lights, thermostats and other household devices; connect to the Internet and other online services; and a host of other things. Now, devices like that aren’t uncommon (I know that’s true because my Alexa told me so), but just about every high-tech device of that type looks like, well, a high-tech device. And while I love the capabilities of technology, I don’t necessarily want to look at a plastic panel with flashing lights all day.

That’s where the mui – introduced by mui Labs, Inc., on their Kickstarter page in October – is different. The only time you see lights is when you use it, and all other times it’s an attractive hardwood panel available in a variety of wood species. The trick is that the lights and lighted buttons are all still there, but they’re covered by a wafer-thin hardwood veneer. The company describes it as a “Calm Design Device,” and speaking as a techno-loving geek, I’d have to agree.

The mui is pricey so I probably won’t be getting one soon. (Plus, Alexa said I’m not allowed.) But if a device like this is successful – and I see no reason why it won’t be – perhaps it will encourage more companies to incorporate wood with their technological offerings.

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