A Korean company specializing in smartphone development is releasing a hardware device next year focused on widgets. The WidgetStation from Emtrace Technologies has both a mono and color LCD and receives content update over Ethernet and/or USB connections. It’s a mini computer with an ARM processor, NAND flash memory for local storage, and RAM.
The mono LCD is designed for long-term display items such as a clock or weather while the color LCD displays built-in and customizable content from the Internet or your desktop, including support for audio playback.
Emtrace’s past developing for smartphones in a mobile-heavy culture such as Korea should give it a leg-up in this emerging market of widget hardware producers. Competitors include PortalPlayer Preface, Chumby, and Ambient Devices. Akihabaranews loves the WidgetStation, which has already won a CES Innovations award in the Personal Electronics category.
Will people use a dedicated hardware device for widgets? I think so. I’ve eyed Internet-enabled photo frames, digital audio players, weather stations, atomic clocks, and more for my own personal use but price and bulk usually keeps me away. Combining functions on one device remotely configurable from the Internet makes a lot of sense and could be pretty popular.