Technology fused with creativity has brought previously mundane household items to a new art form. Gas fireplaces, for example, can be accessorized with crystals and lights that can be programmed and operated with an app to turn an ordinary flame into a colorful light show. Speakers to broadcast music morphed from clunky brown boxes to cool, curvy little plastic cubes that can fit into the palm of your hand.
Whole house audio systems that used to be reserved for the wealthiest homeowners who could pay someone to install speakers are now accessible for as little as $35 for a Google Chromecast audio streaming system. Smart home devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home can stream music in your home and send it to your stereo system.
For people who enjoy both music and art, Boulder-based Soundwall has developed speakers that function as paintings for your home.
Soundwall has fused art and music with a flat-panel speaker made of aluminum artwork that wirelessly streams music. The entire surface of the Soundwall is the speaker, yet any visitor would assume the piece is there as an art object.
Soundwall customers can stream music through their speaker via Bluetooth or WiFi or connect the speaker to a Sonos or other audio device through a portal on the back of the speaker.
High-tech approach to sound
You don’t have to be standing directly in front of the speaker to hear the music. The Soundwall speakers use "Distributed Model Loudspeaker" technology that fills your space with omni-directional sound. Instead of the music coming from a traditional cone-shape like old-fashioned speakers, the entire surface of the artwork resonates with the music.
According to Soundwall, "exciters" are mounted on the back of the aluminum art and vibrate the surface to produce full-range sound throughout your room. You can also connect your own subwoofer via a wired or wireless connection to add more bass to your setup.
Soundwall has two categories of speakers. Their first product, called Solstice, which starts at $499, can be customized with art from a collection curated by the company or you can upload your own image for complete personalization. This product also gives you the option of changing the image since the art can be rolled on and off the speaker.
The company’s newest product, called Nova, starts at $900 and provides a multidimensional experience. Like Solstice, you can upload your own image or choose from the catalog of art more than 150 paintings available on the website. The image is then infused into the aluminum speaker.
With Nova, you can touch the art to control your music and to activate mood lighting that can be programmed along with your favorite music.
The Nova Soundwall has a touch bar along the side and can also be controlled by the Soundwall app. You can choose from a variety of preset ambient backlighting on the artwork, such as deep blue when you’re listening to jazz or warm red when you’re listening to romantic music. You can also choose a simple white backlight. The Nova speaker has been programmed to detect the presence of someone walking by and emits a warm glow.
While you can always use an app to control your music, the Nova speaker also offers the option of touching the right side to swipe up or down to control your volume. You can also touch the art to play, pause or skip songs.
One of the benefits of innovative technology for your home is that fun items such as voice-controlled sound systems and artwork that you can touch and program for music and mood lighting is accessible and user-friendly for "regular" people – not just the superrich.