The basic premise of the Aura frame is that it will display the best photos from a user's phone, without requiring any effort from the user themselves. Whereas other digital picture frames require users to manually select and transfer images, Aura says its frame and the accompanying app will do the job for you.
The app, which is available for iOS and due to be released for Android soon, begins by selecting pictures of the people a user photographs most often. It ensures the pictures selected are good shots by avoiding any that are low in contrast, blurry, duplicated or low resolution.
It also discounts any that contain nudity, meaning there should be no compromising pictures of you or your partner popping up when your parents visit for lunch. This is achieved using a type of artificial intelligence said to have been trained on almost a million images to accurately detect and filter pornographic snaps.
Multiple people can contribute photos to the Aura frame, meaning that shots taken by a whole family on different smartphones, for example, can be displayed in one place. For this functionality, the main user simply needs to invite family members or friends via the Aura app.
The photos that are chosen are uploaded from each user's phone to the Aura cloud, where Aura promises unlimited storage. From here, they are relayed to the frame, which connects to the internet via Wi-Fi. The frame itself needs to be plugged into the wall, measures 11.75 x 10 in (29.84 x 25.4 cm) and is available in ivory (the color) with rose gold trim or charcoal with black trim. Images are shown on a 9.7-in, LED-backlit 2048 x 1536 display, which translates to a 4:3 aspect ratio.
The frame is equipped with light, motion, gesture, accelerometer and proximity sensors, which it uses variously to display a new photo when someone enters the room, to scroll to the next or previous photo when someone uses a swiping gesture in front of it, to go to sleep when the lights are switched off and even keep it straight if hung on a wall (although this last piece of functionality is due to be finalized by way of an upcoming software update). In addition to wall mounting, it can be simply stood on a shelf, and it can be used in either portrait or landscape orientation.
When all's said and done, there's a lot of functionality built into the Aura frame and, on paper, it sounds like it's been well thought out. Then comes the price though, which, at US$399, is a pretty eye-watering for a digital photo frame. For that you could buy a half decent tablet for the same purpose and still use it for watching films on the train. Nonetheless, if it fits the bill and you can afford it, the frame is available to order now on the Aura website.
The video below provides an introduction to the Aura picture frame.