Ever wanted an internet router that ran Android? Me neither, because the concept never existed in my mind. But now that someone actually introduced one, I’m salivating. Enter Soap, a router with a nice 7-inch display that runs Android.
Before you let your imagination run too wild, let me stop you right there: this isn’t some Android tablet / router combo that you can take with you and use for browsing the web or viewing videos. At least, that’s not how they intend for you to use it. They want this to be a supercharged home networking hub that is easy to use and powerful enough for any serious networking buffs to get excited for.
Soap’s touch-enabled interface is there for managing every part of the router experience in an easy, pain-free way. Gone are the days where you have to type in “192.168.0.1″ only to be taken to an ugly, cluttered and confusing user interface to change your network settings. Soap’s main goal is to give you easy-to-use settings and monitoring tools to make sure everything with your network is peachy keen.
Here’s a list of things you’ll be able to do with Soap:
- Parental controls to block sites and set time limits on a device-by-device level, so you can make sure your kids are only accessing content appropriate for their age.
- Block ads at a network-wide level, so there’s no need for plugins on each device you want to block ads on.
- Gives you a detailed breakdown of how much data you’re using.
- Ninja mode that allows you to connect to the router without broadcasting its existence (pretty much like hiding your SSID).
- Spy mode will let you see what each device is doing on the network, and can even stream their screen in real-time to Soap’s display.
- Built-in support for tons of popular automated home solutions.
- Access to all these settings and information from your mobile device. When paired up with Soap’s home automation features, you will get a pain-free way of controlling all aspects of your connected home through the same app (whereas most solutions typically require an individual app for each component in your system).
Soap’s Android Specs
Whew, that was a lot. Powering all of this is a Freescale quad-core processor, 2 USB ports, 32GB of storage that can be expanded with any drive with a SATA2 connector, an SD card slot, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and more. Soap says they’ll throw in an embedded battery if they can hit their stretch goal of $200,000.
And that’s not even the end of it. Soap will support an open ecosystem and invite developers to create apps for the router, making the possibilities nearly endless. Some of Soap’s ambitious dreams include enabling folks to know if their children or pets have entered or exited the home, turn your TV on when you enter a room, know whether your dog is barking too loud and more.
Soap’s Networking Specs
Of course, being a router means that its networking capabilities are more important than anything else. It features 802.11/ac and is completely backwards compatible with a/b/g/n, 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi channels with simultaneous dual-band capabilities, 4 Gigabit LAN ports, WPA2, WPA-PSK, and 128-bit and 64-bit WEP for security.
You’ll also get AOSS and WPS for secure and easy one-press setup. Finally, they’ll have built-in support for DLNA streaming and universal plug-and-play, built-in tools for configuring VPN networks and Samba servers, and full port forwarding and management options.
Backing Levels, Pricing and Availability
I’m no expert in networking, but it seems like they have all their bases covered from where I’m sitting. The only questions left are pricing, availability and any stretch goals they’re looking to reach. For starters, the cheapest option for getting a Soap Touch (there’s a non-touch option called Soap Essential without a display or Android as well) is a $150 package, but only 67 of them are left as of the time of this writing.
There’s another $150 early adopters’ option that will get you your unit well ahead of anyone else (July 2014), though you’ll have to put up with a unit that is potentially buggy as they work out the kinks ahead of the large scale rollout in the fall. Otherwise, you can opt for the $210 option to get both a Soap Touch and a Soap Essential. This combo saves you $90 off the price of both units if you were to buy them individually at full retail.
Unfortunately there are no other current options for getting a lone Soap Touch unit, as they have only listed a limited amount of them. That’s not good news for those who don’t need the Soap Essential, but if you really want one of these once they’re available that’s the only way to get it. Units from the stable production line will be targeted for delivery as early as August, with some options requiring waits into September and October
Of course, the more money they can raise, the more this thing can evolve. Here’s a quick look at what they’re hoping to accomplish at each milestone they’ve set:
- $100,000: Camera, Speaker, and Microphone for Soap Touch
- $125,000: Optical Audio connector for Soap Touch and Essential
- $150,000: Soap with Linux available
- $175,000: Quantenna QAC2300 WiFi chip for Soap Touch
- $185,000: Quantenna QAC2300 WiFi chip for Soap Essential
- $200,000: Internal battery for Soap Touch and Essential
- $275,000: Soap bubbles available as an upgrade
- $400,000: Soap with no rope built-in
We honestly have no clue what those last two stretch goals are supposed to mean, so we’ve reached out for further clarification. It sounds like there’s plenty incentive to at least get this project up to that $200,000 mark, so be sure to pledge if you want to help drive the funding up.
Otherwise, take solace in the fact that we know we’re at least getting the base units promised as they have already surpassed their original goal of $80,000 by $18,000. Head right here for all the nitty gritty details (including a ridiculously detailed explanation on how it was made), and to take it all in and decide if you want to get behind this very interesting idea.