A radio without buttons

[Mouseradio] The mouseradio is a fully functioning radio without buttons. The idea was to use the mouse navigation and to implement it in a radio.
Moving the radio vertically changes the volume, moving the radio on the horizontal axis changes the frequency. The radio is on, when the black speaker points up in the air. (1998)

 

First of all, the concept of the radio seems to be more about not using buttons than using the mouse navigation… Who uses a mouse following only its X or Z axis, or tilts it (not that this isn’t interesting in itself…).

Then, what a shame that the design required that ON and OFF be written on the object to hint at its use.
The speaker is also showing at all times, indicating that the radio might work in all positions, and also points sideways which sounds counter productive. Its volume and tuning are mapped to its axis displacements. That feels akward: turn the speaker towards you and the mapping is inversed…

Something more intuitive (but not necessarilly prettier) might have been to place the speaker under the object and turning it upside down would have revealed the speaker and switched the radio on. [One side being a radio and the other being an alarm clock for example. The only way to turn off the alarm clock being to turn the object upside down, switching on the radio and preventing you from falling asleep again?]

For the volume… Imagine having the object as 2 pieces A & B, with B slightly smaller and heavier than A and contained inside A; pulling (sliding) the top part A up would turn the volume up (similar to the concept of a lamp which had two parts sliding with one another, changing the intensity of the light… but can’t seem to find details on Google). To switch the radio off, simply turn it upside down or press on A with your hand until it slides back down.
Make the object a cylinder and the object offers itself as a giant tuning dial.

It’s interesting to note how we say: “to turn the volume up“… As much as tuning a radio by rotating a wheel or sliding accross the airwave spectrum feel sorta natural to me, turning a dial to change the volume doesn’t.
I much prefer the idea of pulling the volume up or down (or sliding it up and down). One step more natural… but far from being perfectly instinctive…

My favourite volume changing widget would be to actually change the shape of the speaker with my hands, from a large disc to a small coin, from a large gap to a small hole, from a wide-open mouth to sealed lips; a very physical and organic experience.

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  • Aka.me

    Based in Paris & Tokyo, Paul Baron is a senior product manager for hire. Ex-@AQworks. Co-founder of cultural platform Tokyo Art Beat.
    Service design, interaction design, startups, user research.
    Posts a few times a decade since 2003.

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