Google is attempting to improve the aesthetics of the home Wi-Fi router with coverings by 24 artists and designers, including a fake-fur sheath and a cover that turns a device into a fruit bowl (+ slideshow).
Unveiled today, the collection features two dozen different designs as part of Google's attempt to "make home Wi-Fi more beautiful".
The cases were specifically created for OnHub, a wireless internet router that Google unveiled in August. They range from a laser-cut plywood case shaped like a Slinky to a covering made from synthetic fur.
Circular in form, the OnHub device has fewer wires and antennas than a standard rectangular router, and is meant to be openly displayed on a shelf.
"The router is an unloved device, to say the least," said Google. "Routers are often an eyesore, with blinking lights, a mess of wires, and unsightly antennas — so we hide them under desks or behind cabinets, which leads to spotty connections and dead zones."
"A router on a shelf works twice as well as a router that's on the floor. That's why OnHub is designed to be out in the open, where it works best," it added
Designers of the range of OnHub covers include Bower, a Brookyln studio that produces contemporary furniture; James DeVito, an interactive lighting and electronics artist; and Brook&Lyn, an LA-based husband-and-wife team that create objects, furniture and interiors that are inspired by fashion and culture.
The fake fur cover is by Thing Industries, a studio recently founded by New Zealand and New York design duo Bridie Picot and Matt Smith, while Brooklyn ceramicist Helen Levi created the fruit bowl case.
"The sky was the limit with these concept shells," said Google. "The designer-made pieces range from funky to stylish to psychedelic to sophisticated. Above all, they're imaginative."
The coverings are made from a variety of materials, including hand-blown iridescent glass, papier-mâché and 3D-printed thermoplastic.
"We worked closely with each artist to ensure that materials and designs didn't interfere with the Wi-Fi signal," said Google.
The cases are available from Google's OnHub Makers website.
The company is also providing a service that enables people to design their own OnHub shell. The instructions are available online.
"If you'd like to design your own OnHub shell, we've put together all of the information you need to customise an OnHub shell, whether you're using Plexiglas or finger paints," said Google. "You can download 3D files, 2D patterns and guidelines."
Google has also unveiled three coverings designed by the OnHub team, available in the Google store. One is made of bamboo; the others, made of plastic, are offered in black/silver and white/gold.
Designers are increasingly working to beautify and simplify tech gadgets for the home. Earlier this year, Yves Behar unveiled a streamlined British thermostat aimed at "everyone from your grandma to your auntie" and a home security system that is controlled by a smartphone.