I recently submitted an article in which I wrote about a company named Ambient Devices. To paraphrase Ambient, their philosophy is to use physical objects to embed digital information, so that the information is not disruptive or overwhelming but just glanceable.
For example, the Ambient Orb is “… a frosted-glass ball that glows different colors to display real time stock market trends, traffic congestion, pollen forecasts, or any other Ambient information channel: weather, windspeed, pollen, traffic congestion, and more.”
They have other interesting products that you can find on their products page, including an umbrella which glows when rain is forecast. There’s also an online version (beta) of a clock that they’re building that you can try out at http://ambientclock.com/. The clock syncronizes with your Google Calendar to display schedules.
I thought the concept of glanceable information was extremely interesting given that we’re bombarded with information all the time and because Ambient’s is a simpler way to display information.