Remember when searching for a good radio station was a process of discovery, slowly turning a knob to hear snippets of music or talk making its way through the static? The anticipation was part of the experience, not knowing just what you might hear as you made your way around the dial. A fun concept called the Radioball brings back that feeling with an interactive three-dimensional design marrying retro and modern technologies. You simply roll the ball to change the station.
“Thinking back to the days of old analog radios, the magic of finding unexpected stations in the midst of fuzz was both enchanting and evocative,” says designer Ben Collette. “Compare that with today’s digital-based interactions of screens and tact switches; they give us exactly what we want when we want it, but leave no room to stumble onto alternative choices. The radioball prototype was built as a starting point for conversation about the need for richer, more spatial interactions.”
A lightweight, 3D-printed urethane mesh forms a honeycombed ball shape, which is then fitted with electronic components like speakers. The sections of the ball and the components are held together using magnets, and the design team is playing with various colors and levels of transparency for the outer mesh.
For version 2.0, Collette added a digital gyroscope to the control board so that a slow twist on any facet turns the volume up or down. It’s also got a larger battery and an easily accessible mini-USB slot for recharging the device.