The goal of Sookbox is to empower users to enjoy media and applications on whatever device they choose, controlled from their handheld.
The goal of Sookbox is to empower users to enjoy media and applications on whatever device they choose, controlled from their handheld. Read more
About this project
What is Sookbox?
Sookbox is power over your media: Play your videos, music and favorite apps on any television or stereo, all controlled from your handheld device.
Sookbox is a "Geek in a box" - it is "MIT in your home". Wondering what an MIT geek would do to solve the entertainment problem? You would imagine that all media is sourced from one central location. You would imagine that it is all controlled from the palm of your hand. And you would imagine that media would be played on any television or stereo. The answer is a Sookbox, a solution for every home and beyond.
Sookbox Demo from Recent Conference...
What can Sookbox Do?
Two years ago, the Sookbox founding team gathered in a room on the MIT campus and stated the answer to the fragmented entertainment problem as this: I want to sit on my couch and use my handheld device to say "Goodfellas, family room, go".
Owned content is stored on the Sookbox. Apps (such as a full featured Browser) are run via the Sookbox. Simply choose what you want to do (watch a movie, stream a show, listen to a playlist...), and on what output you want it (family room television, kitchen stereo, master bedroom television...). This is done via the Sookbox app on your handheld, which communicates with the Sookbox itself.
Using Sookbox, you can play a movie on any television in your house, or music on any stereo, using your smartphone or tablet as a remote control.
The Sookbox full-featured Browser is the first of its kind. On the television you see the content, and you control it with your smartphone or tablet. There is no clunky remote or keyboard displayed on your television. The Sookbox Browser uses the native keyboard of your handheld, and a simulated mouse (simply rub your finger across the handheld, and the pointer moves across the television).
The User Interface
Sookbox consists of three products:
- An application platform - the Sookbox software - that allows you to control your media using a handheld device (mobile phone or table).
- A server (the Sookbox BDS or MS) that distributes your media upon command.
- A Stream Runner that gets your media to your televisions and stereos via wireless.
Code named "Big Daddy Server", our prototype units are being field tested and soon will be ready for prime time. It is a computer with the Linux operating system that runs our Sookbox software. The current Sookbox BDS has wired outputs for four television zones (HDMI) and 16 audio zones (stereo). It has two terabytes of storage capacity for your music and videos. It is designed for a home with serious entertainment demands - in other words, a home with lots of wiring and zones. Do you already have (or want) a home theater or distributed media system (audio and/or video)? That's who the Sookbox BDS is for.
Other ideal uses include restaurants, schools and offices.
- Sookbox Framework software installed
- Linux OS
- AMD 3.8Ghz Quad Core Processor
- 4GB Ram
- 2TB Hard drive
- 4 independent hdmi outputs (w surround)
- 16 independent audio out (3.5mm stereo)
Suppose you don't need that much capacity? Instead of multiple wired outputs, it is simply one video and one audio output. Connect each to your primary television and/or stereo. It has a USB port to easily connect an external hard drive. The Sookbox MS runs the same software as the BDS, and has the same functionality.
- Sookbox Framework software installed
- Linux OS
- 1.1Ghz Dual Core Processor
- 2GB Ram
- USB Port (for external hard drive - not included)
- 1 hdmi output (w surround)
- 1 audio out (3.5mm stereo)
Want to add more zones to the Sookbox MS? Then you need...
The Stream Runner is a computer in its own right. It is smaller than a deck of cards. It sits on your wireless network, where it acquires an IP address. Then the Sookbox MS (or BDS) finds it, and automatically creates a new zone - without any wiring. It has a video and audio output to connect directly to your television or stereo. And as the name implies, it runs the stream the Sookbox tells it to. Multiple Stream runners can be controlled by a Sookbox.
The Stream Runner will be able to create a zone outside of your home network. Bring a Stream Runner to your hotel room, plug it into the television, get it onto their wireless network - and the Sookbox at home will find it, and treat it as if it was a zone in your house. In the near future, your hotel might simply provide a Stream Runner for you.
Can you just use a Stream Runner without a Sookbox? Sure - we are working on that as well. It is similar software, though somewhat more powerful to act as a "stand-alone" (as in, without a Sookbox BDS or MS).
- Sookbox Framework software installed
- Linux OS
- 700MHz ARM Processor
- 512MB RAM
- Dual Core GPU
- 1 hdmi output
- 1 audio output
The Sookbox Framework
The Sookbox novel approach breaks from the traditional paradigm of one controller connected to one device connected to one output. We separate content from control with a framework that enables users to play their media or apps on multiple outputs.
Sookbox creates a Personal cloud. A true cloud means access and control from anywhere to anywhere. And personal means that it is yours: A cloud divided by user, not by service.
Sookbox Founder Dave Sukoff discusses the Sookbox vision at Verizon-MIT conference on the Connected Home...
Most media distribution devices on the market today are dead end technologies. Sookbox is, at its heart, a computer running software. As such, the possibilities for it are nearly limitless.
Our immediate priority (and what we will use the backer funding for) is to get the Sookbox BDS consumer ready. Then the Sookbox MS and the Stream Runner. But along the way, the corollary innovations come to life. Note that these future features might not be part of the version that is released with the backer rewards. However, future feature updates will be pushed to your Sookbox automatically.
Our existing full-fidelity Browser goes a long way. You can do almost anything with it. For example, open the Browser in the family room, go to Hulu.com, play a show, make it full screen, enjoy. But for an even better experience, a dedicated Hulu app can be created. This will allow you to enjoy Hulu (and other services like Pandora, youtube, iheartradio, etc...) in ways that are vastly more powerful: controlled from the palm of your hand, and directed to any zone. We have our development team hard at work creating these apps.
As Sookbox gains traction, outside developers will be able to create apps for our framework. At its foundation, our software is designed for this type of open integration.
We created an iOS app that works great on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, and are currently working on an Android app. We also have plans for a Browser-based and Windows 8 app. We are constantly improving the interface, and you'll receive frequent updates to these apps.
In the olden days, people did something called "recording". In the modern era, we will aggregate. The DVR becomes a DVA - and you simply aggregate content, regardless of its source, into one place - your Sookbox. You want entertainment, and you really should not be concerned with where it comes from.
Media is media - and gaming is part of that. Playing games on the Sookbox is a natural extension of its capabilities. Sookbox simply runs a game like it would any app. Play Turbo (our first game created as a proof of concept) on whatever zone you choose. The controller is your handheld. The output is your television.
The Sookbox platform opens up new doors to game players and developers. Sookbox will allow a developer to use all the tools of a smartphone (accelerometer, microphone, touchscreen etc) to let multiple players play on a single screen. The platform allowed us to make our demo game: Turbo, and to use the accelerometer on each player's phone to control a car on the television. Our platform will soon be extended to allow two players to play a game (such as a First Person Shooter) together on separate screens on a single box, with audio distributed on speakers throughout the house.
Imagine being on a road trip - you tell your Stream Runner-enabled car stereo to select the Sookbox playlist (at home) with your favorite driving songs.
The car is likely a later stage use case for the Stream Runner. But using a Stream Runner to get your media outside the home is in the works. As described above, it is an IP-enabled computer. Sookbox sees it as just another zone. It does not necessarily care if it sits in the home network or not - it just wants to run the stream.
- Sookbox "Launches".
- VentureFizz picks up on Sookbox.
- The Stars Enjoyed Sookbox at the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards.
The Development Team
Sookbox prides itself on its exceptional team of development professionals. Cutting edge technological innovation is idea driven. It is about a passion for solving complex problems. Here is some information on the team that built the Sookbox Framework:
- Dave Sukoff, Principal. Dave has always had a passion for computers. In his youth, he was amongst the first to program a database system on his way to leading two teams to National Championships in programming competitions. By the late 1990's, and through the 2000's, David focused his programming energies on bringing financial management, and with it derivatives valuation, into the modern era, culminating in the founding of a successful fixed income relative value money management firm. David graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where his studies included a research assistantship with Professor John Cox, programming term structure models for the purpose of pricing swaps and interest-sensitive options. He received the highest numerical score in the core computer programming class at MIT (1.00).
- Cyrus Vafadari, CTO. Cyrus led numerous research projects, including “Observation of Long-Range Near-Side Angular Correlations in Hadronic Interactions” – which was a large scale computer analysis of collisions and Monte Carlo simulations of the Collider at CERN. He also designed a simulation of cosmic radiation on a journey to Mars. Cyrus graduated from MIT where he majored in nuclear engineering.
- Adam Mustafa, Lead Developer. Adam was a program director at Microsoft. Adam has a Masters in Computer Science from MIT, where he was a TA for Elements of Software Construction.
- Mathew Peterson, Lead Developer. Mat worked with a charitable organization in Cambridge to create an iOS application and has done research developing the Rip Van Winkle Cipher for use in network security. He has also worked with Alan Guth, the person who put the bang in the big bang, developing models of how quantum fluctuations at 10^-37 seconds appear in the structure of the universe today. Also, he lead a team to develop a facebook integrated location-sharing app, Bump Into Me. Mathew is on sabbatical from MIT, where he is majoring in both physics and computer science and electrical engineering.
- Katya Radul, Developer. Katya worked as a software engineer for Applied Predictive Technologies, designing efficient tree traversal algorithms and an SQL Server data model. She has worked in the MIT Media Lab developing Web applications. Katya graduated from MIT with a degree in physics.
- Chris Lee, Developer. Chris is a recent graduate from Rutgers, where he worked on a project to create an autonomous chain of basic vehicles by programming arduino boards and machining custom parts to follow a lead car.
- Cory Monroe, Developer. Cory was part of a design team at Microsoft developing a game in the Foundry program for Windows 8. Cory has done extensive programming work at MIT, including writing navigational code for mobile autonomous systems, as well as modeling transmission systems and engineering of packet-switched networks. Cory is currently a student at MIT, majoring in computer science.
- Miguel Flores, Developer. Miguel developed a software tool to track systems and their statuses in the Compatibility Validation Lab for Intel. He also interned for NASA where he tested RADFET Dosimeters for threshold voltage shift after irradiation and exposure to extreme temperature shifts.
We have been ramping up our readiness for larger scale production of our product portfolio and will continue to do so with your support. Our core team has a strong understanding and experience in regards to the production requirements for successful product release cognizant of all the product development stages.
Our COO is Kevin Gagliostro. Kevin has over 15 years of professional experience in various disciplines with a passion for successful product launch and strategic market penetration for novel solutions. He has also worked for various tech start-ups and product launch campaigns supporting efforts throughout the various stages of product development life cycle from proof-of-concept to production readiness to supply chain leaning for obsolescence mitigation and cost-down initiatives. Most recently, Kevin was a Product Manager at Brooks Automation. Previously, he was an Integrated Product Team Lead in the Program Management Office at Raytheon for the modernized Patriot. Having worked as a Patent Examiner at USPTO, Kevin is intimately familiar with product IP protection process and has managed the patent filing efforts here at Sookbox. Kevin has a Masters in Engineering Management from Tufts University and a Bachelors in both Physics and Mathematics from Longwood University.
Kevin leads the manufacturing effort, a summary of which is as follows:
- Sookbox has successfully built and tested over 30 beta (proof of concept) units of our BDS server, essentially readying this product for mass-production.
- These beta units have been fielded with a select group of beta users to assure the product and software platform are mature and stable enough for larger scale consumer reach and satisfaction.
- Sookbox is in the process of refining its supply chain readiness by identifying and qualifying numerous candidate component suppliers to assure that price, quality, and life-span requirements are optimal.
- Teaming with a local products test lab, we are in the process of qualifying our servers for the required certifications, such as UL and CE certification, to assure readiness for consumer reach.
- We have partnered with a regional metal fabrication company to build the case and the PCI bracket to our production standards. Once the kickstarter campaign completes, they will be ready to produce to scale.
- Since Sookbox has been building and qualifying all of our beta units in-house, we are intimately familiar with the larger scale production needs and requirements. We are considering and working to qualify both options for in-sourced (shorter-term) and out-sourced manufacturing (longer-term) and are in the process of identifying manufacturers with the expertise in this component assembly segment.
Sookbox is on the path for full-scale manufacturing to assure that you will get our products delivered to you as described in this kickstarter campaign. We take this readiness step very seriously, and the added support from kickstarter will only assure that the job is done correctly and expeditiously.
Risks and challenges
We have been diligently compiling a go to market plan that includes manufacturing, marketing, distribution and customer service. Our team includes seasoned professionals in small and mid-level tech companies that have been through the start-up manufacturing process.
The initial lot of Sookbox BDS was built the old fashion way - essentially our development team put them together by hand. We are very experienced in this methodology, and can get several hundred made. We have additional space and assemblers ready to go.
As we work towards the Sookbox MS and Stream Runner, we are already engaged with manufacturing partners. Thus, we feel confident that the risks are mitigated. We also factored in a cushion to our delivery times to accommodate any unforeseen scheduling delays.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Sookbox supports most file types, including: MPEG (ES,PS,TS,PVA,MP3), AVI, MP4/MOV/WMA, MKV, ASF/WMV/WMA, WAV (including DTS), OGG/OGM/Annodex, Raw Audio: DTS, AAC, AC3/A52, Raw DV, FLAC, FLV (Flash), MXF, Nut, some ISO.
It depends on the source. If you download a file from a service like Amazon or iTunes, it will not play properly. However, you can play most content via the Browser app. For example, you can go to Amazon.com and watch your content there in the Browser.
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