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Skype Co-founder Janus Friis Takes a Shot in Smart Hardware

Danish super-entrepreneur Janus Friis, most notably known as the co-founder of Skype along with other startups such as Rdio and Joost (not to forget one of his first projects KaZaA), has recently set up a hardware startup, Aether, that “makes thinking things”.

The first thinking thing Aether launched in the beginning of this month is the Aether Cone, an elegant high tech boomblaster device designed to adapt with all environments.

As you might've guessed, the Cone comes in the shape of a cone. The frontal (also the only) woofer works as a tune dial. Rotating the woofer commences any selected track or radio station, re-rotating it swaps the output while tapping the button located in the center of the woofer pauses whatever’s playing. The devices smartness steps in with the voice command feature which can be turned on by pressing and holding the central button.

Thinking on the other hand, is powered by the devices algorithm based learning processes, during which Cone keeps track on what type of music you enjoy listening to (based on how quickly you swap to another track/station) and then applies customized selection in accordance to the time of day and location.

The Cone plays audio from streaming music services, internet radio stations and podcasts. Compatible devices should run on iOS 7+ or Mac OSX 10.9+ "Mavericks" while android support is promised to be on its way. Currently the Cone costs a whopping $399, which makes it a fancy detail only for well financed individuals. First shipments are expected to start during early summer this year.

In other news, Janus Friis's involvement in startups is still going strong. Just last year he launched Block Talent Partners, a recruiting agency that has been working on some of his other ventures, and now he jumps into hardware through Aether.

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