As our recent Cloud storage comparison guide demonstrated, there are plenty of options for storing your photos and videos with an online storage provider, such as Google or Dropbox. A private, home-based cloud can provide more control, better security and home-integration options, though. EzeeCube is a new home cloud hub that aims to do just that.

EzeeCube is a modular, 1 TB, 5400 rpm HDD storage device on which users can save photos, videos and contacts for access from anywhere. It runs on a Linux (Yocto) operating platform and XBMC home theater software, and features a Cortex A9 dual-core processor, 1 GB of DDR3 64-bit 1066 MHz memory, and 4 GB of Flash eMMC memory. Connectivity options include 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, Ethernet, USB, and HDMI.

The EzeeCube mobile app for iOS and Android can automatically back-up the photos, videos and contacts from a smartphone or tablet and allows the user to browse them from their device. The device is also compatible with PC and Mac computers.

EzeeCube can automatically organize content by album, date and location, remove duplicated photos, recognize faces and group photos accordingly, and add the locations and dates to photos where required.

Ashok Jaiswal, systems architect at Ezee Systems, explains to Gizmag that the original idea, developed in January 2013, was not to create a piece of hardware. "We started our development as software-only solution," he says. "However, when we reached out to users, they thought it would be better to have it tied to a set-top box to make the setup easier and the experience better."

Jaiswal explains that the development and prototyping process has been made easier by the company's location. "We're a Hong Kong-based company and are a one-hour drive away are most of the hardware factories in China which really helped us to quickly develop the prototype boards and housing," he says.

The 14 x 14 x 4.5 cm (5.5 x 5.5 x 1.8 in) device is built with open source hardware and software and an open standard approach, something to which Jaiswal says the company is keen to stay true.

"We started the development with hackable boards such as Raspberry Pi and Wandboard, but they lacked necessary configuration or aesthetics so we decided to build our own hardware," says Jaiswal.

Additional modules can be added to the EzeeCube base unit to add more storage and to add add Blu-ray player functionality. According to Jaiswal, a TV tuner module is also in the process of being tested and there are plans to provide a "Stacking Development Kit" so that the open-source community can develop its own new functionality, such as game controllers and video conferencing modules.

EzeeCube offers Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) support for integration with other devices in the home, personal video recorder (PVR) support that will be compatible with the TV tuner module and will allow users to record content from wherever they are, and Apple Airplay support for streaming content wirelessly to other devices.

Ezee Systems is in the process of raising production funds on Indiegogo. Users can pledge from US$179 to receive an EzeeCube device, assuming the campaign is successful. "We are very confident that we will be able to reach our Indiegogo target and be able to go into first production run of 500 units," says Jaiswal. Should the campaign fall short, however, the company has been approached by a number of venture capitalists that could provide another source of funding.

The video below provides an introduction to EzeeCube.

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