The Chüne design team came up with the concept while on a three-month internship at UK digital design consultancy Clearleft. The quirky and original design built for a shared user environment is the result of a very open brief: “Turn a current active digital behaviour into a passive one.”

Each of the three team members brought their own individual skills, including a background in robotics, multimedia design and industrial design. They started out by trying to understand the brief by mapping out things like digital behaviours, digital devices and input methods.

They then began sketching concepts and from around 120 they managed to whittle it down to six and then just two. The Clearleft team them voted for the one they wanted to see developed further.

This social radio concept was then further refined through moodboards, quick sketches and renderings.

“When designing Chüne we wanted something more playful than your average sandblasted aluminium gadgets,” says Victor Johannson, the industrial designer of the team.

“We wanted to create something that was inviting to use, something that you want to touch and a interface that you can’t keep your hands off. We also decided early on that it should have a strong character, and not just blend in with other sleek tech gadgets. A lot of the inspiration in Chüne comes from older hi-fi sets and DJ equipment.”

The radio has a very simple interface featuring just three controls. The volume dial is fairly self-explanatory and so is the skip button – simply press if you want to skip the song. However, the vibe control is the interesting one as its lets you adjust the music to fit the current vibe.

So, if a party atmosphere is wanted in the evening, by cranking up the vibe dial the selection algorithm changes and the type of songs, Chüne selects is altered to match the changing mood of the gathering.

Inside, Chüne features a number of components including a Raspberry-Pi equipped with a wi-fi Bluetooth LE dongle. The Pi is also connected to a NFC reader, LED display and an amplifier, which is of course connected to a speaker.

Songs are added to Chüne by users who download the app onto their smartphones and then simply tap their phone to the top of the product. Their song will wirelessly be added to Chüne’s playlist.

“One of my favourite details of Chüne is something that I really think connects the playfulness and the character of the device; the display,” says Johannson. “We wanted some kind of feedback on the device for when people ‘tap in’ and since audio would be distracting we went with visual feedback. So when a person ‘taps in’ there is this low-fi matrix display hidden in the mesh that plays a cute little animation and that eventually transforms into the logo (or a smiley, depending on how you want to see it).”

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