Tangible Radio Tuner Rocky Radio

Natural Radio2-1A bit counterintuitive is this design study of a radio. FM-frequency and volume are controlled by placing stones and pebbles on the radio box. The weight in the volume or tuning area determines the volume, respectively the tuning.Honestly, for me this looks a bit like many pseudo-intuitive works, which all try to get more out of a given concept by applying <em>intuitiveness</em>. Unfortunately they all fail when it comes to real usability, though I don’t know if this particular example tries to be usable at all (as a radio rather then a sculpture). I think usability itself does not end at the hardware design, but should include the software interface (here, the way volume and tuning are determined based on the pebbles). It is not sufficient to replace standard controllers by new ones, in case of the Rocky Radio, also the underlying controlling mechanism has to be changed. For example by linking predefined frequencies to given stones or combination of stones. For me, what counts is not the fact of using a new hardware interface, but rather a new concept, namely the linkage of stones, i.e. graspable, tangible real world artifacts to digital information.The above-described problem of hardware designs also applies the other way round; having a favorites system attached to a standard, button-equipped HCI interface fails in adding really new and better HCI techniques. The absence of an analog slider that shows the current frequency, adjustable by a knob prevents users to manually adjust the tuning to a frequency. Their radio experience is fixed to the tuner’s capability to find appropriate tunings.So, I suggest to think of both, the hardware and the software control structure when designing new interfaces for existing technology. 
[via Rocky Radio—Yanko Design]

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