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Bang & Olufsen’s new speaker is pure skeuomorphism

Bang & Olufsen’s new speaker is pure skeuomorphism
[Photo: Bang & Olufsen]

Bang & Olufsen’s new Beosound Edge is either a piece of conceptual art about skeuomorphism, or a gigantic practical joke. I think it may be both.

[Photo: Bang & Olufsen]
Announced this week at IFA 2018 in Berlin, the largest consumer electronics fair in the world, the $3,500 Beosound Edge is a simple chrome cylinder with a black textile front. The all-in-one speaker includes a lot of drivers inside: One 10-inch woofer for bass sound action, two pairs of 4-inch drivers that deliver sound in the middle frequencies, and two 0.75 tweeters used for high notes. In theory, you wouldn’t need anything else to augment your space.

But what’s really notable is its industrial design and UX. The speaker is actually a giant volume knob–one that the Verge reports has a gyroscope and an accelerometer to detect when you’re rolling it along the ground. You can see the gesture in action below:

The speaker senses when you’re near, activating a touch-sensitive interface atop its aluminum curve. It borrows from a familiar interface–the old iPod–to let you start, stop, and skip tracks by tapping on the white light. Of course, to adjust the level you just roll the knob. It’s the epitome of skeumorphic design: The entire speaker becomes a physical representation of the physical device that is used to control it.

[Image: Bang & Olufsen]

“You instinctively feel the urge to roll the balancing circle—and you should,” the company writes in its marketing materials. It’s less that I should, and more that I must. I really must.

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