Last week, Netgear unveiled a new range of products for the Australian market, comprising of new routers, Alexa Orbi speaker and smart art frame bringing content from iconic museums, artists and image collections to walls across Australia - and the world.
In this first article, let's start with Meural, a company and product that Netgear acquired in 2018 to broaden its range of products and services while bringing the past, present and future of art out of museums and private collections into individual homes.
It is all displayed, experienced and enjoyed on the Meural Canvas, which Netgear bills as "the smart art frame that combines the best of art, technology, and design to bring every brushstroke to life" - and which now receives Australian pricing and availability.
As you'd expect, the company proudly boasts its Meural acquisition expands upon its "existing line of best-in-class connected home products and grants users access to an unrivalled art library stocked with over 30,000 of the world’s most iconic pieces of art".
Here's my video of last week's Netgear Australia event, it covers all of the products and services launched and starts with the Meural. There's a second video with Netgear SVP David Henry from last year embedded at the end of this article:
So, what is a deeper explanation of Meural and how it works?
Well, we're told that Meural is "a Wi-Fi connected smart art frame", built with "patented TrueArt technology – a blend of hardware, firmware, and algorithmic software that renders each image as rich and vividly textured as a museum original.
"The dynamic canvas is simple to use either with Meural’s mobile app, gesture control, or voice control via Amazon Alexa. A simple wave of the hand allows users to browse individual artworks and curated playlists, as well as access settings.
"Users can also customise their canvas settings, ‘favourite’ artworks, curate and schedule art playlists, adjust the Canvas’ light sensitivity and more, through the app or online dashboard (my.meural.com)."
Naturally, Netgear says Meural Canvas "can be incorporated into any home décor seamlessly" and "is available in two sophisticated designs and three colours".
These are "the Leonora (named after artist Leonora Carrington) available in black and white at A$1,199, and the Winslow, (named after painter Winslow Homer) made from walnut and available at A$1,299".
Vladimir Vukicevic, Meural Co-Founder and Senior Director of Digital Canvas Products at Netgear said: "Over the past decade, we’ve seen emerging technologies breathe new life into almost all creative mediums – music, television, music – and herald new opportunities for their respective creators.
“Meural was born from the sentiment that visual art – one of the oldest forms of expression on earth – had been left behind by the tech world. We believed that there was a way to use technology to bring art into people’s everyday lives.”
Here's the Meural video shown on the Meural website:
What is more info about the available art collections?
Here, we're told "the accompanying Meural Art Library is a searchable, curated collection of licensed artworks, chosen especially to spark discovery and bring a new, dynamic selection of artwork to users.
"To date, Meural’s curatorial team has amassed an extensive catalogue of works sourced from top museums and cultural institutions, which includes the best of classics like Rembrandt and van Gogh, to NASA satellite imagery, to boundary-pushing digital works by contemporary creators, and copyrighted works from the estates of artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Marc Chagall, and Jackson Pollock.
"Australian audiences will find artworks from local institutions, such as the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide. Users can also upload their own artwork and photography to the Meural Canvas to display it instantly in a gallery-worthy format".
Vukicevic added: "It’s 2019, and the art market is still off-limits to all but a select few. Our arts institutions are struggling to maintain the public’s limited attention and adapt to our rapidly evolving culture.
"Meural’s ultimate goal is to use our technology to bring art into every home, and to create lasting, fluid relationships between artists, arts institutions, and art lovers".
And what's the ongoing subscription cost?
Netgear has decided to offer Australian users a three-year Meural Art Library content subscription, included as part of the purchase, were you can "explore images, create playlists, mix-and-match art library content" with your own, and download it to your Canvas.
In the Australian presentation (that you can see above), Netgear says that after the first three years of the included subscription, the ongoing cost will be A$70 per year.
David Henry, SVP of Connected Home Products at Netgear said: "We are building a platform that has the power to connect visual art to new audiences on a global scale – something that has never before been possible.
"Within seconds, billions of dollars’ worth of the world’s most renowned artwork can appear on thousands of walls across the country.
“Increasingly, technology is the spark that enables creativity inside the home, and Meural is ideal for Australians who are seeking ways to elevate their home with innovative devices and awe-inspiring artwork. We’re glad to set a new precedent in connected living where users can continuously discover new art, and customise their space without limit," Henry concluded.
It should come as no surprise to learn that "each frame is equipped with improved Wi-Fi capabilities, supporting both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bandwidths, as well as increased RAM, and automatic orientation match for display in both vertical and horizontal modes".
You can learn more about Meural here.
Here's my video interview with Netgear SVP David Henry from September 2018 on these new products: