Your Digital Life, in the Real World

If there’s one thing hipsters love, it’s old -- that is to say, analog -- media. They’ll wax rhapsodic about the warmth of a vinyl record, or swoon over the smell of old books. But most hipsters these days are also millennials, the generation whose lives are most closely entwined with digital technology, for whom Pandora, Instagram and Hulu are as common as dirt.

French startup Ozenge seems to have found that sweet spot between the physical and the digital in their first product, Qleek, where the social cachet of a vinyl collection meets the reality of living in the Age of iPod.

Qleek offers a way to represent collections of digital data using hexagonal wooden chips, called Tapps. An RFID enbabled Tapp might link to a Spotify playlist, a collection of ebooks, a YouTube channel, a Facebook photo album, a podcast series -- pretty much any kind of content you can access in the cloud. Place the Tapp on a wood-framed reader, and the linked content will stream to the screen or speakers of your choice.

Tapps are designed to be shared or traded with friends (as long as they have their own reader), just like an old-timey record or book. They’re also magnetic, and can be stored on a honeycomb-shaped wall plate, which Qleek call The Hive. It’s the digital version of that carefully curated bookshelf that lets people know just how sophisticated and esoteric your tastes are, and turns your media collection into a handsome decoration.

“We wanted to use wood, which is a warm material, to downplay the technical side of data and restore the human factor to media collections,” co-founder Johanna Hartzheim told LAtelier.

Pick and Play: Qleek

The Qleek team has been through the Le Camping accelerator in Paris, and has now launched a crowdfunding campaign as the next stage in getting the product into the wild.

Keep tabs on the project at Qleek.me and have a look at the teaser video below.

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