These intelligent displays offer a uniquely beautiful vision for the future – CNET

Mui panel product image-1

Mui panel product image-1

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom and the latest technical equipment.

Step into the tide of reporters in this Las Vegas ballroom and scan them Rows of developer standsI find what I'm looking for: like a single wooden board on a table. Around the table is a dense theater full of people, cameras that capture the moment when Kaz Oki, CEO of Mui Lab, taps on the wood and illuminates a constellation of soft LEDs on the panel. This is a smart ad, but it has nothing to do with an Amazon Echo Show or Google Home Hub. In short, it is beautiful.

The Mui panel ($ 550) is not new, but will be launched later this month. We treated it a few years ago when it was just a Kickstarter project. However, the panel represents a growing trend of smart displays that rely less on pure computing power than on something deeper – a kind of aesthetic philosophy.

The Mui control panel contains some features you would expect from an intelligent display: the ability to send messages, check the time, and connect to Wi-Fi. But Oki says he doesn't want the panel to become a distraction to attract your attention, as the screens around us often do. Little gifts bring the underlying philosophy home. A function only helps you to take a deep breath. Another option allows you to set timers, but only by running your finger over the wood. A line is drawn that disappears pixel by pixel when the timer counts down.

These smart features and tracking your child's size over time represent a truly unique approach to smart home technology. It's an approach that I find very exciting.

Another display that I discovered among the hundreds of exhibitors was from a company called Mystic Pants (yes, really). The Lyf Board is much earlier in development than the Mui Panel and may change or disappear in the coming years, but its approach is equally convincing.


Tyler Lizenby / CNET

When the screen is off, the Lyf Board looks like a standard smart display. However, the screen offers a retro-minimalist aesthetic with appealing and colorful pixel images against a strong black background. According to CEO Aron Steg, the focus is not on a touchscreen (an app controls the display) or the high sound quality. It is more focused and provides personalized information based on who is in the room. As a bonus, this personalization is based on proximity to the phone rather than facial recognition.

"It is intended for families," says Steg, which Mui Labs CEO told me. The aim is to create a device with a convincing aesthetic that gives the smart home area a new look and yet fulfills the main functions of a smart display. And between Mystic Pants and Mui Lab, not to mention the touchscreen mirrors with beauty tips and mini projectors here at CES, a beautiful presentation seems to be an increasingly important task for smart home devices – and that's a welcome innovation ,