Almost Genius: Teague's Radioball Lets You Rock and Roll from Station to Station

Touchscreens are boring to play with, but clever haptic interfaces like this one can restore some magic to our gadget interactions.

Radio Ball

The brilliant interaction designers at Teague have unveiled their newest experiment: The Radio Ball, a geodesic sphere that offers a new way of exploring radio channels.

Designed by Benoit Collette and Adam Kumpf, the Radio Ball attempts to add some haptic novelty to the process of finding a radio station. Each facet of the ball corresponds to a different radio channel. To change the channel, you simply rotate the ball to another face. Tiles that plug into the gaps allow you to mark those that you like.

As they write:

Touchscreens make devices simple and sexy, but in doing so, they also become visually similar, haptically monotonic, and uninviting to natural discovery. Thinking back to the days of old analog radios, the magic of finding unexpected stations in the midst of fuzz was both enchanting and evocative.

Teague has tackled the problem of adding a more human-centered feel to touchscreen interactions from several angles. Recently, they invented this knob you can add to a touchscreen:

And this fabric-covered stylus, which is meant to make drawing a touchscreen easier to control, with richer physical feedback:

As Creative Applications points out, the knobs in particular offer a new paradigm for touchscreen applications: Eventually, all of the capabilities of touchscreens are going to be bewildering, so we'll probably need some physical bits that can be added-on as markers for laying out all the specific functions you want to tap into in a given application. For example: Photoshop. If it ever migrates to a touchscreen, there's no way could you remember all the things the program does or the gestures associated with each. So it only makes sense that you'd have a kit of knobs and dials, to bring up the right tools you need for a job.

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