Radio that's all user-interface

Here's a radically simplified user interface for a radio -- as Kottke says:
The Hidden Radio has no obvious controls...unless you count that the radio *is* the "has either no user all user interface". The volume is controlled by lifting the lid of the radio (which also reveals the speaker). Tuning is done by twisting the lid. Absurdly clever.
Hidden Radio (via Kottke)


  1. Wow, neato. Except not having pricing or ordering information on the website is kinda… not usable. You might say, “cleverly absurd.”

  2. It’s very attractive. However, I often find over simplified devices like this confusing and frustrating.

    You see between the nobs and the buttons and station numbers, lcd screens, clocks, save setting etc.. that makes up the busy face of a modern radio
    and this sleek nothingness there has to be an intermediary product to retrain the consumer in how the device works v/s their perception of how it works.

    Often though, when product designers “think outside the box” they neglect the crucial step of retraining the consumer to follow them to the outer edges of the box.

  3. This reminds me of a comment Ted Nelson made in a lecture once (paraphrasing:)

    “The radio just needs two knobs: louder, and different.”

  4. Uhh, how do you tell what channel you’re on? Listening to a every station until you find the correct one without a readout is a real pain.

  5. I would say absurdly different or differently absurd.
    I do not really see anything particularly clever with hiding the necessary controls and giving no visual clues for operation.

    Design wise it gives no affordance (meaning nothing with the design of the object helps the user use it).

    Looks designed by a graduating design school student who has never got feedback from real human customers. Also probably never worked with a user interface/usability expert.

  6. “Quick! Tune to 106.3MHz, you have hear this!”
    “Uhh, give me a second here.”
    “Oh, then turn it about 7/8ths around!”

    I wonder what size of radio it is, are we talking “stool” or “lamp” or “thimble” ?

  7. That really reminds me of the PowerMate from Griffin – it’s a really well made metal knob peripheral. It’s mainly designed for volume control, but you can assign pretty much any function you can think of to the six different inputs (turn, push, long push, and push and turn), even program specific.

    I guess this post is about how much I like metal knobs. I’d buy that radio if I had a bunch of money lying around that I wasn’t using.

  8. OK, I haven’t spent any time with the merchandise, but it doesn’t inspire me to do so. Therefore, I grade this product: FAIL.

  9. Uukk. This designer is nothing but a wanker if you’ll excuse my french.

    Who would design a radio so ‘simple’ you can’t see what frequency you’ve tuned to. Honestly if you want to keep the aesthetics super clean embed something that is only visible while tuning or something but provide something for gods sake!
    Who would design a website with text so thin, light and grey that its nearly impossible for even those with 20-20 vision to read.

    Wankers that’s who!

  10. C’mon folks. You’re supposed to write the frequencies on the top half with felt tip pen so they line up with the LED. Or you can just mark your favorite stations. It’s customizable.

    Better: the numbers should light up when you grab it, disappear again when you let go. That might be tricky on the thin outer cylinder.

    70 mm is pretty small!

  11. great, so i probably need 2 hands and a modicum of concentration to turn up the volume without changing the station and visa versa.

  12. Unless I missed it on the linked site, how do you switch between AM and FM? Don’t people still do that?

Comments are closed.