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Calou Want to be Your Connected E-ink Wall Calendar

calouYour family’s bulletin board is about to go high tech – or at least that is what the developers of Calou are hoping will happen.

Calou is a 300 euro digital wall calendar slash bulletin board which combines an E-ink screen with a round magnetic frame. Powered by 4 standard AA batteries, Calou runs a basic calendar app which takes a family’s online schedules and makes them readily accessible offline.

It syncs over Wifi with linked Google and Apple iCloud calendar accounts to offer up-to-the-minute schedules for several people, enabling any family member to simply glance at the screen and see everyone’s activities.

And since it runs an accessible version of Android, it should also be possible to run other apps.

Calou runs Android 4.4 on a 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM and an unspecified amount of storage. Its 9.7″ E-ink display has a touchscreen and screen resolution of 825 x 1200, and inside the box you’ll find Wifi, Bluetooth, and a speaker.

This digital wall calendar went up for funding on Indiegogo a couple weeks ago, but it only crossed my desk today. It’s a nifty gadget, but I have my doubts about the design and about the whole idea.

For one thing, the 4 AA batteries are only good for a couple weeks, which is simply not going to cut it. I don’t expect the batteries to last that long, and the idea that one should have to change the batteries of a 300 euro wall fixture every couple weeks is simply ridiculous.

And while I will always love new gadgets, I don’t see the point of Calou.

Calou wants to take an online schedule and give it an offline presence, and that strikes me as a retro solution to a problem which no longer exists. As I see it, any family which maintains an online schedule also has mobile devices, and computers with which to check that schedule. They won’t need a Calou calendar in a single place in their home, not when they can pull out their smartphones and check the calendar just about anywhere.

And that is doubly true considering that the family in question updated their online calendar from said mobile devices.

Looking at the Indiegogo campaign, I think it’s clear most people agree with me. Backers have contributed around 10 thousand euros towards the goal of 1.4 million euros. There are 19 days left in the campaign, and I don’t think it’s going to succeed.

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Liz April 8, 2015 um 11:12 am

I, on the other hand, would love this. (With better battery life.) I’m not glued to my phone, and having a quick guide to everyone’s schedules readily available whenever I walk through the kitchen would be idea.

charlie April 12, 2015 um 12:22 pm

I spent a bunch of time and money trying to get this idea built about 7 years or so ago. I got to know a couple people at Eink ( JD Albert ) during the time I spent with Peter Bressler at Bressler Group trying to develop it. Here’s the thing with this then and now- It costs too much to produce. Back then we didnt have crowd funding like we do now. But even with , it’s a long hard pull to get it out the door.

Most people who would use this thing (we’d use it in our house, or at least my version) have an at a glance paper calendar hanging up now. They pay less than $10 to get a new one each year. To replace that with something electronic it has to be cheap, easy to use and as pretty as possible. Mom doesnt want to get rid of that spring flowers calendar on the fridge with a black and white digital box that costs $300

The design of this one is quite pedestrian. No flair at all. My design calls for using flexible color eink and substrate with the electronics along one end. The display would be practically borderless , uses a larger size- more like 14″ diagonal and would be something like a vinyl placemat. The whole thing could roll up in a pretty cardboard tube for retail( ) and you’d even be able to get art work that could hang from it or sit under it to show a pretty border, replaceable of course so mom’s can change it from time to time or just be able to place designs right on the display as backgrounds.

theirs is an inelegant tablet shaped black and white box with a fairly thick circle around it. no flair and no style. the people who you want to want this – MOMs- are not going to want it on the fridge for this alone, let alone the price. They are using cheaper older eink instead of newer brighter higher contrast displays. without color they are forced to use multiple columns to display different inputs and forces them to use one orientation. and all of that pales in comparison to the fact that if you are going to replace a single use paper product with a single use digital product it cant cost several hundred dollars unless it’s super special.

this isnt. people can grab a cheapo android tablet or even a used ipad for for less then his cost, just install the calendar app they like and stick it to the wall to get a better experience, cheaper. the only thing this has over that is battery life when not plugged in. he’ll have to retail it at a premium price for a mundane experience.

Nate, I’ve seen that keyboard before, the pop up one for input. Is this perhaps an Onyx device locked into an Android calendar app with a AA battery space tucked in?

Nate Hoffelder April 12, 2015 um 1:55 pm

people can grab a cheapo android tablet or even a used ipad for for less then his cost, just install the calendar app they like and stick it to the wall to get a better experience, cheaper. the only thing this has over that is battery life when not plugged in.

You can get a large tablet with a decent wide-angle screen for under $200 – as a refurb. With the right software that would be a better, value, yes.

As for the KB, I don’t recognize it. It doesn’t look like the Onyx onscreen keyboards I’ve seen before, but this could still be Onyx’s work. Someone had to do the hardware development, and Onyx does have the skills.

charlie April 12, 2015 um 12:32 pm

oh and i might add- it needs a message center. if mom wants to know where kid A is or where husband is and glances at the large digital camera there should be a place on it where she can see messages to home that you are running late or you stopped after work for a bite and a beer etc. this makes it much better than just a digital version of the wall calendar. makes it more like Mrs Weasley’s clock 😉

charlie April 12, 2015 um 12:33 pm

calendar not camera. stupid auto correct…

Wisknitcat February 14, 2016 um 8:37 am

This reviewer obviously has never tried to manage a household. We live and die by our refrigerator calendar. Having everyone’s schedule right in front of you is critical. Having it on a phone or tablet you have to pull out just doesn’t cut it. This product would be great with much better battery life. I would install a plug on the wall if that were an option. It also needs to be bigger, synch to all of the families individual calendars and have the option for alarms and text reminders so we don’t miss an appointment or activity. Honestly any mom will tell you about a party we knew about in the morning but forgot about by afternoon!

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