Audio broadcasting radios have been around since the 1920s. In fact, their control interface share many similarities — knobs, sliders and switches — with those designed by our ancestors nearly 100 years ago. Now, what if we could re-imagine the entire radio control experience to create a more meaningful relationship between the user and the artifact?
Seeking to do just that, Carnegie Mellon University design student Yaakov Lyubetsky has developed a fully-functional prototype of his latest The Experimental Form Radio using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328).
The project features an ATmega328 based board along with a custom circuit comprised of three independent layers of conductive fabric and thread. Touching together the two layers of conductive fabric completes one of twelve circuits that then either change the radio station or the volume.
“When The Experimental Form Radio is laying on a tabletop, it is off. To turn the radio on, you pick it up and slot it onto a wall mount. The radio leverages the elastic qualities of fabric to control stations and volume,” Lyubetsky explains. “To change stations you press lightly and slide your finger along the fabric surface. To change the volume you press firmly into the fabric, and then slide your finger along the deeper cavity in the radio.”
As the Maker points out, the visual and auditory feedback allows the user to have a clear understanding of the system state.
“The soft and stretchy material qualities of fabric create a control system that is inviting and pleasurable for the user. The strength of the user’s push as well as the cast shadow on the fabric creates tangible feedback for the user to have better control of the tuning and volume.”
To explore Lyubetsky’s efforts to re-imagine the way we interact with radios, you can tune-in to his project page here.