In brief: This two-by-four is actually a smart home assistant that can control your lighting, music, and more. It works with Google Assistant and blends in to the room when not in use. It launches in a few weeks for $999(!).
CES is always home to crazy ideas and early concept devices that may not even be released as first shown. The Mui smart block of wood could certainly be one of those devices. The name translates from Japanese to mean silent and out of sight until needed or utilized.
What looks like an unassuming two-by-four is really an internet-connected smart home device. It features IFTTT integration to control smart lighting and thermostats, Google Assistant, Spotify music playback control, and more. When it's not in use, the internal LCD display turns off and Mui once again becomes a piece of wood. It is designed to blend into to a room in a way that most traditional home assistants can't.
Mui doesn't work with "OK, Google" unfortunately, so you'll have to touch the screen to issue voice commands. Your words will then appear on the wood as you speak them. While it can control your music and display what song is currently playing, Mui doesn't actually have a speaker either.
The product was unveiled in late 2017 and raised more than $114,000 on Kickstarter in 2018. The product is currently in Indiegogo InDemand and will launch to backers for $549 in a few weeks. After that, it will hit the broader retail market for $999. Check out The Verge's CES coverage of the Mui for an in depth look at its operation.
Many of the demos shown at CES or on crowdfunding sites never turn into actual products. While it certainly will have a very niche market of minimalists that want to stay connected, it's very interesting to see this type of product actually make it to market. Mui also won a CES Innovation Award for the unique design.