Few things are less sexy than the humble router. But this wireless workhorse is our portal to the wonders of the Internet, and it's overdue for a makeover. Design students, backed by TalkTalk, have come up with four clever and cool concepts to bring sexy back to Wi-Fi gizmos.
TalkTalk turned to Goldsmiths, University of London, the crucible of learning that begat Blur and Damian Hirst and is so minimalist and stylish it's dropped the word 'college'. And it's on Twitter (@GoldsmithsUoL). We reckon even the porters' uniforms are primary-coloured skinny jeans.
The designs consider four factors: signal strength, home style, energy efficiency and pure enjoyment. Members of the public -- that's you -- get to vote for their favourite at futurerouters.com. Or just leave a comment moaning about your broadband, it's up to you. These are concepts rather than finished designs, so if you have any suggestions on how they could be improved, or if you have any ideas of your own, stick them in the comments.
Click through our gallery to meet the concepts. We'll start with the frankly crazy-looking Jellyfish, pictured above.
The Jellyfish is designed to be the centre of attention: yeah, we can see that. It has an 'organic' breathing sequence, which glows to indicates bandwidth strength. Perhaps inspired by this infamously bonkers-barmy 3 advert, the Jellyfish connects up to eight Ethernet cables for people to link up like they're in an episode of Doctor Who.
The Route O'Clock is split into 24 glowing segments, coloured to indicate signal strength. The idea is to choose the best time to carry out certain tasks, depending on how much bandwidth it'll eat. We're not sure what colour it glows if your broadband is being throttled. Disgruntled TalkTalk customers should also refrain from mistaking it for a dartboard. It's a neat idea -- make it a bit smaller and we'll talk.
The Hybrid Router is apparently a "sexy side table and a bold style piece". It looks like a coffee table with a router in it to us. Still, it has flashing lights.
To us, the Energy Saving Router is the concept that, with a little extra work, could have legs. It features four hooks for hanging keys on, house keys being an indicator that someone is in and the router is needed. When everyone is out and the hooks are empty, the router switches off. You can also set a timer for downloading.
It's another neat idea, but it's a shame it's so ugly. We'd like to use this to create a landing strip for your keys and wallet and the like, and perhaps combine it with the Hybrid concept to build a charging station too. Set it to work via Bluetooth signal from your phone as you walk through the door and we'd be in geek heaven.