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Mui wood display built to calm, not distract

Startup Mui hides a smart home screen behind a sanded wood panel.

Mui Lab

Device screens are everywhere, and products like the Google Home Hub are bringing screens into your home. The $1,000 Mui, though, deftly integrates a display into what for many is already a familiar object -- a piece of sanded wood. While it's active, interactive LEDs glow beneath the Mui's surface. When not in use, all trace of technology disappears. What's left then is just the Mui's warm, wooden facade.

The Mui has an interactive LED display under its wooden surface.

Mui Lab

The point of Mui Lab's approach is to limit the persistent, ever-present distraction today's screens embody. When its asleep, the creators of the Mui say, its natural appearance will calm. Even while it's in operation, the experience is meant to be relaxed, casual, not all-consuming.

This doesn't mean the Mui won't keep its owners digitally connected. According to Mui Lab, the device provides many ways to control the smart home. These include setting thermostats, adjusting lights, checking the forecast and playing music.

When it's asleep, all you see is natural wood.

Mui Lab

Thanks to its onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, you'll also be able to control the Mui with Android and Raspberry Pi3 hardware. Likewise, skilled programmers should also have the tools to customize the Mui if they choose.

The Mui officially launched in the US on Kickstarter today. Backers of the project can reserve units at the discounted price of $499, which converts to about £385 or AU$705. The project says it'll ship anywhere in the world and that it plans to start shipping as early as January. As always, CNET's reporting on crowdfunding campaigns is not an endorsement of the project or its creators. Before contributing to any campaign, read the crowdfunding site's policies -- in this case, Kickstarter -- to find out your rights (and refund policies, or the lack thereof) before and after a campaign ends.

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