Chumby gets $12.5M… here's why it's taking off

This post is syndicated from ReadWriteWeb.

Chumby Industries, makers of the Wi-Fi video and widget displaying device, the Chumby, have just announced $12.5 million in Series B funding today. The company notes that this new financing is going to be used to “accelerate growth of the company, and expand and broaden the Chumby Network to other screen-based Internet connected devices.” How did this little gadget get so popular? And why would you want one? Read on to find out.

What’s a Chumby?

For those of you who don’t know, the Chumby Touchscreen Internet gadget is a popular – and darned cute – gadget that can be customized with various channels that feature widgets, videos, feeds, games, and more.

To use your Chumby, you plug it in and configure it to work with your Wi-Fi network. Once that’s done, you log on to and customize yours with the widgets of your choosing.

These widgets can be anything – web clips, RSS feeds, games, videos, Tweets, news, weather, a clock, photos, or a million other things. Some of the widgets come from deals made with content providers, like the widgets available from CBS, MTV Networks, MySpace, The Weather Channel Interactive, AOL’s SHOUTcast and Scripps Networks.

The Chumby also has speakers, so you can hook up the Chumby to your iPod via the USB connector in the back and play your iTunes playlists with it

Made for Hackers

However, what’s really great about the Chumby is that the device is designed for customization. Want to hack, mod, extend, or improve Chumby? Have at it!

The Chumby lets you upgrade your Chumby in four different ways: developers customize the software, build Flash widgets, or even hack the hardware. Arts-and-crafts types can also mess around with the Chumby in their own way, decorating it or putting in a case of their own design.

Software: The Chumby is a Linux-based, open-source platform which means developers can do nearly anything with it. A quick glance on the Chumby forum shows posts about Python & Ruby for Chumby, Java for Chumby, Perl for Chumby, MTASC for Chumby, and much more.

Widgets: For Flash animators, the Chumby can be a showcase for your talents. Artists can upload widgets to the Chumby site and share them with the community so others can add them to their own Chumbys. These widgets are the bread-and-butter of Chumby, bringing most of the cool stuff like news feeds, videos, games, viewers, utilities, and other fun and/or useful tools to the device.

Hardware: The Chumby is made for tinkerers. You can open up the Chumby, take it apart, upgrade it, add to it, and mod it. They even tell you how and provide extensive documentation.

Crafts: You don’t have to be a computer nerd to enjoy modding your Chumby, though. Even artistic types can enjoy making Chumby their own. The Chumby is designed so that the core electronics can be easily removed from its casing, letting you create your own look for Chumby without having to write code. See?

Modded Chumby on Chumby’s flickr Group

You can even embed a Chumby gadget on your own web site to show people what your Chumby looks like:

Virtual Chumby

Now, don’t you want one?

Author’s Note: I have a Chumby and I love it.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Leave a Reply