Interaction, Semantics, Arduino • How can patina foster a relationship between object and user?


The radio is turned on by removing the controller from its dock. Moving the it from left to right determines station while up and down controls volume. 

This radio is an exploration into personal connection with objects. Through reserved form language and carefully determined interaction, the object is designed to weave a narrative with the user over its lifetime. The radio aims to provide value beyond utility to foster a relationship that gives deep satisfaction and a keen attention to form.

When the user first experiences the radio, he or she must spend time and attention to reveal how to use the product. After the riddle is solved, the radio's behavior is reliable and predictable. This establishes an immediate connection between the two parties that will continue to evolve. Over time, wear in the stone will reveal the usage patterns of the individual or community using the object most frequently, further establishing a connection between the object and the user.

The project began with a hacked paper radio interaction prototype.

The radio was conceived to leverage the connection users create with well worn objects. 

After exploring several forms that reveal behavior over time, the idea of a blank slab as a canvas became a clear direction. Upon the slab of material, one axis would control station and the other volume, over time plotting the preferences of the user or user community and providing a personality for and connection to the object.

Several form variations were sketched and modeled to arrive at a shape that could house internal components and promote use.

The first attempts at retrieving the X Y data were mechanical, as the plan was to rig potentiometers to the sides of two bars and measure resistance to map the variables. Laser-cut parts with and without bearings both proved unreliable, so the radio form was slightly modified to accommodate an X Y infrared motion sensor and Arduino board. 

A magnet in the handheld unit controls a white paper flap inside the black box. The infrared sensor sees the position of the flap and outputs X Y coordinates, which are mapped to fm radio frequency and volume, respectively.

Many thanks to Choice Granite and Marble for the beautiful stone and time spent cutting to size.

An Arduino Uno sits in the left compartment and a reed switch sits in the right to detect when the handheld unit has been removed. The arena with magnet controller and infrared gesture sensor are in the middle. Speakers are screwed into white acrylic boards and hot glued into place behind the grill.

Many thanks to Lucas Ochoa and Jesse Klein for extensive help with coding and hardware.