The Chumby is a consumer electronics product formerly made by Chumby Industries, Inc. It is an embedded computer which provides Internet and LAN access via a Wi-Fi connection. Through this connection, the Chumby runs various software widgets.
Roughly resembling a small clock radio, it consists of a small touch-screen with a leather and plastic exterior. It uses AC power and turns off if unplugged; a 9 volt battery connector is supplied for backup power. It comes in six colors.
The device is designed to be customizable by users: after agreeing to the Chumby HDK License, users may download schematics and other hardware information. Wired magazine named Chumby one of its top gadgets for 2008. Its software is mostly open source, running on Linux.
In April, 2012, Chumby Industries, Inc ceased selling hardware and put Chumby related assets up for sale. Support for the platform ended the following February.
During the intervening time, the Chumby has been maintained in 'Space Clock' mode. The device is communicating with servers being maintained by a former employer who licensed the technology under the company name 'Blue Octy', displaying a single clock called 'Space Clock'. In March, 2013, Blue Octy sent a software update to Chumby's still online, aligning them to the new world of Chumby under the Blue Octy servers and the service will soon be resurrected.
Shortly after Foo Camp, Chumby announced a free Chumby offer, where applicants would receive the same alpha-level Chumby as those previously given away. Applicants submitted ideas for software applications or hardware modifications. One of the goals for the free offer was to have Chumbys in the hands of developers who were willing to begin building applications.
In July 2007, a First 50 was released to 50 random applicants, who received the next generation of Chumbys. This was followed, in September, with an Insiders Release. Interested parties could send e-mail to Chumby requesting release information, and were given the opportunity to join in the Insiders Release. Finally, in February 2008, the commercial release was made public on the Chumby Store. In May 2008, the price was $179.95 for any one of three colors, latte, basic black, and pearl. In Japan, Chumby was available through Zyyx, Inc. as www.chumby.jp since October 23, 2008. In Australia, the Chumby was available through ISP Internode.
In November 2009 the Chumby One was released: a similar, all-plastic version of the original in white with blue trim. The major difference was the hard plastic case replacing the soft leather. Other changes include a slightly faster processor, only one USB port on the rear of the device, and inclusion of an FM tuner and physical volume knob. The hard plastic case allowed Chumby Industries to offer the Chumby One at a reduced price of $119.95.
In April 2012, Chumby announced the cessation of hardware sales, having ceased manufacture of their own hardware the previous year and exhausted their inventory. On April 20 it was confirmed that the company itself was being broken up. Dedicated fans managed to keep the service running for a period following the company's demise, but on 20 February 2013 Chumby shut down its servers leaving users with a simple clock that shows time, calendar, and date. A brief message appears on the Chumby website explaining the suspension of service.
The Chumby technology is in the process of being resurrected with a company called Blue Octy and one of the original Chumby developers working on the project. Visiting www.chumby.com shows details and the currently online Chumby devices received a software upgrade this week, getting ready for the new Blue Octy world of Chumby.
The Original Chumby
- 350 MHz ARM9-based Freescale i.MX21 controller
- 64 MB of SDRAM
- 64 MB of NAND flash ROM
- 320×240 3.5 inch touchscreen TFT LCD running at 12 frames per second
- stereo 2 W speakers, an audio output, an integrated microphone
- two USB 2.0 ports
- integrated Wi-Fi
- a bend sensor for squeeze-based user interface features
- motion sensor (accelerometer).
The Chumby One 
- Freescale iMX233 454 MHz ARM926EJ-S processor
- 64 MB DDR SDRAM
- 2 GB internal microSD card (capacity depends on production date)
- 320x240 3.5" TFT color touchscreen
- 2W mono speaker
- Wi-fi connectivity (802.11 b/g)
- FM radio tuner
- Uses rechargeable lithium ion battery (not included); about one hour on a full charge
- 4" wide x 4" tall x 3.5" deep
- 1 USB 2.0 high-speed port
- Stereo headphone output
- Volume knob
- Accelerometer (motion sensor)
- ABS plastic housing
- AC adapter included
- USB ethernet compatible
- Dimmable backlight
|Comparison||Chumby One||Infocast 3.5||Original||Chumby 8||Infocast 8|
|Manage content channels from device|
|Free subscriptions loaded and updated by chumby||No||No||Yes|
|Event scheduler UI||No||No||Yes|
|Upload photos and videos to favorite photo-sharing sites||No||No||Yes|
|External media support||Yes||Yes||SD, MMC, CF, USB|
|Updated sharing features||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|WebKit browser (chumbrowser)||No||No||Yes|
|Accelerometer (motion sensor)||Yes||No|
|USB port||1 USB 2.0 high speed port||1 USB 2.0 high speed port||2 USB 2.0 high speed ports|
|FM radio tuner||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Wi-fi connectivity (802.11 b/g)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Processor||454 MHz ARM processor||454 MHz ARM processor||350Mhz Arm9||800 MHz Marvell ARMADA 166||Marvell Mohawk|
|RAM||64 MB DDR SDRAM||64 MB DDR SDRAM||64 MB DDR2 SDRAM||128 MB DDR2 SDRAM||128 MB DDR2 SDRAM|
|ROM||Internal microSD card firmware||Internal microSD card firmware||64 MB of NAND flash ROM||Internal 2GB microSD FLASH storage|
Hacking the Chumby hardware was encouraged by the manufacturer. Schematics and other hardware information may be downloaded after the user agrees to the Chumby HDK License. For example, users on the Chumby Forums have experimented with and documented some battery hacks, allowing the Chumby to be operated without AC power for short periods of time.
There also exists a Chumby Hacker Board that mostly resembles a Chumby One motherboard. There are some differences to hardware connectivity. Chumby Industries did not officially support the board.
Chumby units run a modified Linux kernel. The software originally installed on the device was designed to play a set of user-customizable widgets, small Adobe Flash animations that deliver real-time information. This is possible because an embedded version of Adobe Flash Player is installed. The animations have the ability to control and interact with the low-level hardware, thereby enabling functionality such as smart alarm clocks that bring the hardware out of sleep, a web based picture viewer, a web based camera, online RSS feeds, and physical user interface features such as gesture recognition through squeezing the soft housing.
The software for the Chumby automatically updated when something new became available. The updates came from the free access to the Chumby network, and a modified BitTorrent client was used to upgrade the open-source portions of its firmware.
- (Walker 2008)
- "Chumby HDK License Agreement". Chumby Industries, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- Dumas, Daniel; Charlie Sorrell (2008-12-22). "The Top Gadgets of 2008". Wired. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
- Michael Arrington (2007-06-23). "Chumby: One Year Later". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- "Why we gave away chumbys at FOO Camp". chumblog. 2006-08-26. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- "Free chumbys available (soon). "Widgetoons" wanted!". chumblog. 2006-09-13. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- "Chumby’s "First 50″ Program". chumblog. 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- "Chumby’s "Insider’s Release"". chumblog. 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- "Chumby launches to the public today". chumblog. 2008-02-25. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- "chumby store". Retrieved 2008-05-22.
- Murph, Darren (2012-04-19). "Chumby halts hardware sales, long-term support looking mighty unlikely". Engadget.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- Nilay Patel (2012-04-20). "Chumby no more: employees at Technicolor, technology waiting to be sold". The Verge. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- "Chumby calls it quits after tricky move from hardware to software". VentureBeat. 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- Chris Welch (2013-01-14). "Chumby platform could die in February as funding for open source project dries up". The Verge. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- "Linux gadget to replace the clock radio?". LinuxDevices.com. 2007-06-14. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- "Chumby Wiki". Wiki.chumby.com. 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- "Hacking hardware for chumby". Chumby Industries, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- "Please clarify 9 Volt issue". Chumby Industries, Inc. 2007-12-31. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- "DIY 5 hour battery pack-$25". Chumby Industries, Inc. 2008-05-20. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- "Sensor tutorials". Ladyada.net. 2012-04-27. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- "Chumby One vs. Chumby Hacker Board? (Page 1) — Chumby Hacker/OEM boards — chumbysphere forum". Forum.chumby.com. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- "Developing Widgets for Foo/Katamari". Chumby Industries. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- "Some questions?", thread on official Chumby forums
- "Developing widgets for Chumby". Chumby Industries. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- Lyons, Daniel (March 24, 2008). "Chumby and the Ambient Web". Forbes. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
- Haughey, Matthew (November 1, 2007). "A Wi-Fi Gadget for Music and Photos, All Wrapped in Leather". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
- Walker, Rob (June 22, 2008). "Tinkerer’s Toy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
- Dave White (2006-08-28). "Chumby: portable Wi-Fi device you can make your own". Mobile Magazine.
- Erica Ogg (2006-08-28). "Wi-Fi clock radio cuddles up to hackers". Gadget Blog (CNET Networks Inc.). Archived from the original on 2013-01-19.
- Schofield, Jack (2006-08-31). "What is a Chumby and why would I want to hack it?". Guardian Unlimited.
- "Tech Report: Chumby // Current". Current TV's InfoMania. May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-31. "Satircial criticism of Chumby"
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chumby.|
- Official website
- Chumby at WikiSpecs
- Summary of the product from O'Reilly
- Chumby Review at Broadcasting World