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Chris Ziegler of The Verge had a chance recently to chat with Ambient co-founder and CEO Pritesh Gandhi to hear about the company’s past, present, and future.

“We’re perpetually bombarded with information, 24 hours a day. That’s just our connected reality now, and there’s very little hope of escaping it. On Valentine’s Day, I penned an editorial on how I believe that the secret to distilling this information — the key to preventing humans from collapsing under the ever-growing weight of this data — has been right under our noses for years.

They’re called “glanceable” devices, and Massachusetts-based Ambient Devices has been developing them for over a decade. The company spun out of a project at MIT’s famed Media Lab with the goal of integrating data points into our lives in a natural, organic way. Ambient’s path to building a real business has been an unusual one, producing oddities likes the Orb — a glass sphere capable of glowing different colors to indicate a temperature, stock price, or anything else the user can dream up — and the Umbrella, whose handle would glow when rain was in the forecast.

These days, Ambient has largely turned its attention to bigger customers, focusing on power companies who can deliver glanceable products to end users that help them trim their energy costs. But will we ever see something like the Umbrella again?”

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