Kano, the company behind the $200 Stem Player that was once the only way to buy Ye’s Donda 2 album, is back with a de-Ye-tified version of the device, as well as a new Stem Projector that promises to offer the same remixing tricks for videos, but minus the problematic connection to a celebrity now best known for anti-semitic rants.
Long before Kano partnered with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, for the Stem Player (which looked like a smart speaker covered in squishy synthetic flesh), the company had made a name for itself with its education-focused STEM (in this case an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) products, including computers that could be assembled by kids as easily as Lego sets.
The Stem Player wasn’t a DIY device, but it did bring something new to media players, with gesture controls that could be used to remix parts of a song as it played. And now that, according to Fast Company, Kano’s four-month partnership with Ye has ended (it actually ended in 2020, turns out, and it’s now stopped selling the Yeezy-branded hardware), the company feels the music device is worth resurrecting, this time with exclusive content from the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah: 10 tracks for $360, or five for $240, plus exclusive content and opportunities, including meet-ups with the artist at concerts.
Alongside the new versions of the Stem Player, Kano is introducing the Stem Projector, which also looks like a flesh-wrapped puck dotted with glowing lights. It’s operated using a combination of touch-sensitive controls and six physical buttons, and while it can project content from other devices using a mini-HDMI connection, stream it from other devices or services wirelessly, or just play whatever users load onto its 256GB of storage, the Stem Projector will also come pre-loaded with content that has yet to be finalized.
Battery life is rated at a decent four to five hours, but that’s mostly because Kano’s Stem Projector musters just 150 ANSI lumens of brightness, according to The Verge. That is comparable to what you’ll get from pocket-sized pico projectors that need a dark room to throw a visible image just a couple feet in size. The Stem Projector sounds more like a novelty than the centerpiece of a home theater, which is going to make its $600 price tag a tough sell, but not as hard as it’s going to be for Kano to shake the stigma of its Ye collaboration.