Pixeom lets you set up cloud services without the data center

The company is appealing to users worried about data privacy

Pixeom's 'cloud in a box' is a  home server that lets you host your own social network, storefront and discussion board

Pixeom's 'cloud in a box' is a home server that lets you host your own social network, storefront and discussion board

If it's not the NSA or Google it's someone else. These days it seems there's always somebody scanning your data, looking to make a profit or to learn something about you. What if you could set up your own social network or e-commerce site that didn't require putting your information in someone else's data center?

That's the idea behind Pixeom's palm-size cloud in a box, a US$125 device (or $99 if you're among its first backers on Kickstarter) that aims to make it easy to set up your own social network, file exchange and e-commerce site at home without using public cloud services.

You take the plastic device home, plug it into your Ethernet network and access it from a PC using the device's IP address or, for the less technical, from a mobile app. It comes with three applications installed -- one for hosting online discussions, one for file sharing and one for setting up a digital storefront.

There are plenty of public cloud services that do similar things, but according to Pixeom founder and CEO Sam Nagar they all suffer from one problem: trust.

"The public cloud services are all built on the foundation of the data center, and it's a treasure trove of personal information that's vulnerable to data breaches, or vulnerable to being accessed by the service providers, because they create their own encryption keys which lets them access your data," Nagar said.

Pixeom, he said, lets you invite contacts like a social network and then host discussions or share files that are stored securely on the device instead of in a public cloud. The data is all encrypted automatically with AES-256 encryption and you can specify your own encryption keys and passwords.

Pixeom showed off its device for the first time at Showstoppers in Las Vegas Tuesday, an event attached to the International CES. The product is built on the Raspberry Pi single-board computer.

It's something you could do by setting up your own home server, but Pixeom says it makes it cheap and simple by providing the device and the applications ready to use. Files can be made public or shared only with contacts, and the storage can be extended with a USB hard drive or by adding more Pixeom devices.

Payments for the storefront app are processed by Dwolla, an online service that charges $0.25 per transaction, or is free for transactions of $10 or less.

One catch is that, like other Kickstarter projects, Pixeom is still raising money and won't ship its product until about May. It hopes to raise $50,000, and said it raised $18,000 on Tuesday, the day the project went live.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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