It says something about the allure of crowdfunding platforms that companies that have had initial success (and sometimes not initial success) go back to the well when they have updated or new projects. That’s already been proven out by the team behind Hidden Radio — one of the first of the now ubiquitous portable Bluetooth speakers — and its sequel, the HiddenRadio 2.
But they’re now up for something that is — if not completely different — a big step up from the modest audio quality of its smartphone companions with the Hidden HUB. The circular, omnidirectional speaker uses larger speakers to create a more room-filling sound. Like its predecessors, can take advantage of virtually any online music source. However, it supports a number of new connection methods, including DLNA and Apple’s AirPlay as well as tapping its own standard for creating Sonos-like multi-room audio.
The HUB can also connect to HiddenRadios to add an extra burst of audio around the home. And in keeping with the deisgners tradition, it can be controlled with simple touch controls on its surface. HUB owners can mount it on the wall and the video even shows it being used as a home theater speaker. But they can also use it untethered and outdoors (in nice weather) with its 12-hour battery — even at night when its subtle LED underlighting would stand out most.
But what really sets the HUB apart is its intelligence about its surroundings. While stereo receivers have long had the ability to adjust their sound to a room’s dimensions with the placement of a sensor, the HUB can do this unassisted. In fact, it even uses an accelerometer — normally used for mobile products — to detect its orientation and adjust the sound direction accordingly, regardless of whether it’s horizontal on a table or vertical on a wall. The audio device uses similar detection technology to note when people have left a room at which point it automatically pauses audio that resumes upon their return. Hidden hopes to raise $200,000 by November 12th. Post-early birds, the HUB backer price is $389 with the future retail price slated to be $599.
In all, the Hidden HUB seems to have touched all the right bases. It’s networkable with broad compatibility, can work with the company’s legacy products, can go a full day on its battery and is smart about its placement, orientation and even listenership. It offers differentiation out of the box and as owners expand into multiple rooms. It all sounds good, but we’ll have to wait to hear just how good it sounds.