Skip to main content

    BERG builds a home videophone for Google with the Connbox prototype

    BERG builds a home videophone for Google with the Connbox prototype

    Share this story


    Back in early 2012, BERG's Joe Malia gave us a collection of videophones in film as part of an unnamed design project. The project's goal, it turns out, was both simple and very difficult: create a piece of dedicated video hardware that could break people out of the "scheduled Skype call" mindset and get them to treat video as a tool for quick conversations or constant telepresence. Based on a request from Google Creative Labs to showcase Google's voice and video services with a device prototype, BERG created the "connection box" or Connbox, a kind of virtual window that lets users see and interact with others.


    Though it went through several versions, there were a few consistent Connbox strategies. The first was to focus on larger panoramas rather than close-ups of faces, furthering the sense that the videophone was a "tunnel to another place." The second was to get rid of inset displays of your own face, either by splitting them into a separate section or by removing them altogether. A final prototype included a pair of screens — one for the user, one for the person on the other side — that could display video or have a virtual "screen" drawn over them, cutting off one side of the conversation.

    Put together in 2011 but not revealed in detail until now, the Connbox isn't likely to become a real product, nor would it necessarily work as one. BERG says the project is on hiatus, but discussing its hypothetical future, the studio proposed a new class of devices meant for home instead of mobile use. The strategy is similar to that of the Little Printer, another single-purpose BERG device meant to bring communications technology back into the world of furniture and appliances.

    Today’s Storystream

    Feed refreshed 9 minutes ago Midjourneys

    Alex Cranz9 minutes ago
    After DART smashed into Dimorphos, I can’t stop thinking about the best “blow up an asteroid” story.

    LucasArts and Steven Spielberg came up with The Dig, a game about an astronaut, scientist, and journalist blowing up an asteroid and finding a spaceship inside, and they did it years before Bruce Willis, or NASA. You can still buy and play it on Steam!

    Richard Lawler21 minutes ago
    Everything looks better in slow motion.

    Apple’s Dynamic Island alert system isn’t sitting still around your iPhone 14’s front-facing camera array. We’ve been enjoying its contextual animations — and even an Android copycat — since it was unveiled, but take a look at it here, captured at 240fps, to see exactly how iOS applies animations that make it feel a bit more lively.

    External Link
    Russell BrandomAn hour ago
    Oracle will pay $23 million to settle foreign bribery charges.

    The SEC alleges that Oracle used a slush fund to bribe officials in India, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

    This behavior is sadly common among software companies doing business overseas, and it’s not unique to Oracle. In March, a former Microsoft executive claimed the company spent as much as $200 million a year in bribes for foreign officials.

    External Link
    Emma Roth3:16 PM UTC
    Celsius’ CEO is out.

    Alex Mashinsky, the head of the bankrupt crypto lending firm Celsius, announced his resignation today, but not after patting himself on the back for working “tirelessly to help the company.”

    In Mashinsky’s eyes, I guess that means designing “Unbankrupt yourself” t-shirts on Cafepress and then selling them to a user base that just had their funds vaporized.

    At least customers of the embattled Voyager Digital crypto firm are in slightly better shape, as the Sam Bankman-Fried-owned FTX just bought out the company’s assets.

    Mary Beth Griggs2:46 PM UTC
    NASA’s SLS rocket is secure as Hurricane Ian barrels towards Florida.

    The rocket — and the Orion spacecraft on top — are now back inside the massive Vehicle Assembly Building. Facing menacing forecasts, NASA decided to roll it away from the launchpad yesterday.

    External Link
    Andrew J. Hawkins1:30 PM UTC
    Harley-Davidson’s electric motorcycle brand is about to go public via SPAC

    LiveWire has completed its merger with a blank-check company and will make its debut on the New York Stock Exchange today. Harley-Davison CEO Jochen Zeitz called it “a proud and exciting milestone for LiveWire towards its ambition to become the most desirable electric motorcycle brand in the world.” Hopefully it also manages to avoid the cash crunch of other EV SPACs, like Canoo, Arrival, Faraday Future, and Lordstown.

    The Verge
    Andrew Webster1:06 PM UTC
    “There’s an endless array of drama going on surrounding Twitch right now.”

    That’s Ryan Morrison, CEO of Evolved Talent Agency, which represents some of the biggest streamers around. And he’s right — as you can read in this investigation from my colleague Ash Parrish, who looked into just what’s going on with Amazon’s livestreaming service.

    The Verge
    Richard Lawler12:59 PM UTC
    Green light.

    NASA’s spacecraft crashed, and everyone is very happy about it.

    Otherwise, Mitchell Clark is kicking off the day with a deeper look at Dish Network’s definitely-real 5G wireless service , and Walmart’s metaverse vision in Roblox is not looking good at all.

    External Link
    Jess Weatherbed11:49 AM UTC
    Won’t anyone think of the billionaires?

    Forbes reports that rising inflation and falling stock prices have collectively cost members of the Forbes 400 US rich list $500 billion in 2022 with tech tycoons suffering the biggest losses.

    Jeff Bezos (worth $151 billion) lost $50 billion, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin (worth a collective $182b) lost almost $60b, Mark Zuckerberg (worth $57.7b) lost $76.8b, and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey (worth $4.5b) lost $10.4b. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (worth $83b) lost $13.5b while his ex-boss Bill Gates (worth $106b) lost $28b, albeit $20b of that via charity donations.