UX Design | Strategy | Industrial Design
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Experimental Radio

Experimental Radio

Industrial Design . Tangible Interfaces


I used the idea of an experimental FM radio as a basis to explore unique interactions with our digital products. I designed the form and circuitry, programmed the micro-controller, and built the physical form.


I took inspiration from Japanese rock gardens for the radio. Japanese rock gardens seem so simple and have seemingly simple interactions. However, the experience of simply raking sand and placing rocks in the sand is such a complex and meditative experience. What makes it such a powerful experience is the combination of strong visual, auditory, and tactile sensations. This trifecta of sensations in careful balance is what I was most conscious about while designing.

Coding & Electronics

I used the Arduino platform to prototype my radio. I used a RFID reader and load sensor to control a FM radio tuner. I had little experience with coding and electronics going into this project, so I leveraged the open source online community to learn how to best build this radio.

Design & Fabrication

My final design consists of small stones as a substrate with small potted plants as the focus points. The experience of pushing, pulling, lifting, and dropping the stones creates that trifecta of sensations I was focused on. I found that people would play with the stones to make various shapes, hold them to feel them against their skin, and drop them in different ways to hear for the differences in the sounds they made.

By having a substrate that is desirable to interact with, people are encouraged to approach it as an interactive piece, not a object to be simply looked at. The potted plants are designed to look mobile to avoid the notion that the plants were planted in one spot. The dark wood vessel I designed to hold everything presents the stones and rocks to the user and takes the back seat visually. The white stones, green plants, and white speaker stand out against the dark wood. These encourage people to use the radio and build an understanding as how to use it.