Smart home technology can seem abrasive, with blaring screens, voices and other aspects that take some of the aspect of calm and comfort out of the home environment. This new product offers smart technology combined with smart design for a subtle presence.

Silicon Valley doesn’t know what to do about digital distractions. Facebook and Instagram have implemented “time well spent” features to help you track your use of those apps; Apple offers activity reports and even app limiting features. But the companies are still built around attracting your attention.

Meanwhile, the founders and engineers behind mui are heading into Japan’s rural forests, interviewing foresters and local residents about their relationship with wood, in order to learn how to build more natural, human-friendly tech.

They’re working on a smart home device — live on Kickstarter now — that streamlines all of your gadgets and digital notifications into a quiet, simple interface embedded in a wooden panel, hearkening back to simpler times in a high-tech way.

The product’s primary aim, explains cofounder and CEO Kaz Oki, is to offer a “calm design” device that better aligns with human behaviors. “Technology is convenient, but it forces us to make new habits — to isolate ourselves with our phones or to say, ‘OK Google,’ or, ‘Alexa!’ to turn on smart home assistants — that are not really our traditional human behavior.”

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