Draugiem enters the hardware sector with a simple WiFi display

displioSmartphones offer a tremendous amount of information at the edge of our fingertips, but it is not always possible to check for new Facebook updates or personal emails. Latvian startup Draugiem is developing a device that aims to alleviate this issue by offering notifications that users can place on their desk or kitchen counter.

The Displio is a small box, which offers notifications for stocks, email, traffic, weather, calendars, Twitter, Facebook, FitBit, Basecamp, and more (the company says that they will release a developer API, which will expand the device’s potential). Users can also connect the device to their various accounts or they have the option of grabbing a part of any webpage and turning it into a widget capable of displaying notifications on the device. The device, which displays notifications in black and white, and includes a speaker, for those notifications which may be too important to merely list on the screen.

Most people on this planet do not speak English, but that is not necessarily a barrier to using this particular device, as Draugiem says that the Displio can display UTF-8, which allows it to show any character. One of the most notable features of the Displio is its simplicity, not even containing external buttons, requiring users to tap the device or shift it in order to change up the notifications.

Draugiem says that they purposefully selected the more plain e-ink, as opposed to color, for their displays in order to lengthen the life of the battery. They offer a bit more choice when it comes to the device itself, as customers have the option of wood casing or casing in green, red, blue, black, yellow, and gray. Buying this device will not require you to break the bank, either, as it is currently available through Kickstarter for $79 and up.

Draugiem is best known for creating the most popular social network in Latvia, even moreso than Facebook, and has built upon that success with various online projects. With the Displio, they are now branching out into the realm of hardware. Draugiem typically funds new projects with the profits from other projects, but a representative from the company tells me that they have decided to turn to a Kickstarter campaign in order to validate the level of interest that customers have in the product, as well as cover the cost of production. The campaign has another 15 days to go, but it has already proven to be a success, bringing in more than $80K from 597 backers, which tops the $65K that they hoped to pull in.

Last year, we wrote about LaMetric, a Ukrainian startup which also turned to Kickstarter to finance a device that functions as a color display and speaker. That startup, which plans to ship its devices this summer, pulled in $370K through their crowdfunding campaign. Notable differences between the products include the size of the device (LaMetric is designed to be a ticker), the color of the display (LaMetric offers a variety), and the price (those who pre-order the LaMetric device now can get it for $149).

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