Alexa’s Smaller, Cooler Cousin!

Even though there’s barely anything to the HiddenRadio2 Speaker, I can’t get enough of it. Designed with true minimalist spirit, this metal blob looks unsuspecting at first. Then you place your finger on the top and open a Pandora’s box of opportunities!

Designed with virtually no buttons (or any visible speaker at first), the HiddenRadio2 looks like a metal version of the Pokemon Diglett. To power it on, just place your finger on the capacitive touch enabled top and the metal housing dramatically lifts upwards to reveal a tiny yet versatile and powerful 360° speaker below. The touch surface on the top of the speaker takes care of pretty much everything and paired with the HiddenRadio app on your phone, you have yourself a tiny and powerful audio-device/AI-assistant. The touch surface on the speaker can be tapped, swiped, and swirled, allowing you to control playback and volume. It can even activate Siri, allowing you to connect to the internet and even to your smart-home. The speaker can also be used as a speakerphone for around-the-table conference calls, and what’s most interesting is that it can be paired with multiple HiddenRadio2 speakers to simultaneously fill your room or entire home with audio. And when you’re done, just tap on the speaker again and the metal hood lowers, concealing the speaker, almost like magic!

Designers: John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen & Vitor Santa Maria

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Recommended Reading: Inside Apple’s new spaceship campus

One More Thing Steven Levy, Wired Apple's so-called spaceship campus, or Apple Park, has been in the works for a while now, but this week Wired gave us a big update on the progress. The obsessive attention to detail, tunnel entry, modular "pod" se...

Harman Kardon makes an Alexa killer!

So this happened. Just how Amazon suddenly debuted the Echo speaker with the Alexa AI assistant inside it and completely changed the smart-home game overnight (single-handedly cementing Alexa’s place in the AI Assistant battle between Google, Apple, and Windows)… this happened recently. Harman Kardon (a company recently acquired by Samsung) debuted its Invoke speaker, a large sound-pillar with Cortana, The Windows AI Assistant built in. We’re very eager to see how this will stand up to the Amazon Echo, simply since Harman Kardon have been absolute champions of audio for decades, and Cortana has been a lone-underdog with no one really using Windows phones.

On the design front, the Invoke is a lot like the Echo, with its matte metal vertical cylinder design crowned with the LED light ring on top. However, it completely destroys its opponent when it comes to audio, because no one really makes speakers quite like Harman Kardon! Unlike Echo’s single driver construction, the Invoke has 3 woofers and 3 tweeters, giving it a solid edge over the competition. We’re still really eager to see what the AI will be like and will it match up to Alexa (who’s known to be partial towards Amazon’s own products and services).

It also goes to show that Harman Kardon plays its cards well, choosing Cortana rather than its own parent company Samsung’s voice assistant Bixby. In all honesty, it has barely been weeks since Bixby’s launch, so we really can’t expect it to match up to Microsoft’s voice assistant that has been in development since 2009.

Designer: Harman Kardon

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Got Some Mixed Tapes Still Lying Around? The Elbow Player Can Squeeze The Music Out

Many of you reading this have never used a cassette tape. You might’ve heard of them, sure, but likely you’ve never seen on in real life, and the Elbow will just seems a curiosity. But for those of us born in the early 80’s, there’s a chance we still have a little collection covered in dust somewhere, rich in nostalgia. Maybe it’s that mix tape you made in high school. Maybe it’s an Aerosmith album or something. The Elbow Player is a tiny conceptual device meant to play cassette tapes, and give back access to sounds otherwise lost forever. One section of the player grabs the spool and spins it, while the reader picks up the music. The image above is pretty self-explanatory

Sadly, it’s a concept project that doesn’t seem to be turning into a Kickstarter or anything. Which is a shame, because we bet there’d be a market for this.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ DudeIWantThat ]

The Building Blocks of Electronic Music

The modularity movement has hit the music industry too, as can be seen with the Roli Blocks. Designed by Roli, the same people who made the Seaboard Rise that won the Good Design Award last year, the Blocks are a series of MIDI controllers that work on similar principles as the Seaboard, giving musicians a level of fluidity that you don’t see in key-based instruments. The touch sensitive backlit LED surface intelligently tracks taps, slides (on both X and Y axes) and even senses pressure, allowing for a musical experience that is truly unchained, and for literally everyone!

Individual blocks, known as Light Blocks, come with the ability to pair with an app titled NOISE, that allows users to work the instruments by loading sound banks, loops, synths, percussive instruments, or work as a X-Y filter controller. They can even be paired together, just by snapping two units side by side, creating your own setup depending on your need, skill, and budget. Musicians with a low budget can start off with just one Light Block and progress as they see fit.

The design of the Blocks is just stellar and robust. The LEDs underneath act as visualizations as well as entertainment. Even the magnetic connectors are surprisingly secure and efficient, making your music production truly seamless. The touch surface of the Light Block feels great to the touch, and bases itself on the Roli Seaboard’s touch surface (which went through more than a 100 material iterations to get the exact perfect material properties that made the fingers feel at home while they played against it for hours at an end).

The Blocks have magnetic connectors on all four sides, connecting with a click and intelligently pairing with each other. Roli has even introduced two additional styles of blocks, known as Looper and Live blocks, for studio work as well as for performances. Snap these on and you have a setup that’s good enough to knock out a stellar music performance!

The Roli Blocks have received a lot of praise from contemporary musical greats RZA and Steve Aoki, with them even introducing sample packs of their own to Roli’s library. Do check out the free NOISE app on the App Store and give it a try. Your inner musician may just surprise you!

Designer: Roli

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Guy Plays Bass Guitar with a Fidget Spinner

Fidget spinners are super popular right now. Maybe I’m not the right age, but I just don’t get it. I say just stop fidgeting and learn some self-control. Apparently they help relieve anxiety though, which I can understand. It just seems weird that so many people are so fidgety. Bah. Also, get off my lawn, kids!

Okay, so this is cool anyhow:

YouTuber and musician Davie504 decided to see if he could play bass guitar with a fidget spinner. The trick here is that he didn’t just use it as a pick, but he let it spin, making it the perfect tool for playing the Dick Dale surf rock classic Misirlou.

I have to admit this guy sounds pretty damn good. It looks like fidget music is now officially a thing now. Now all we need is a band using fidget toys with all of their instruments. Ladies and Gentlemen, sit still for the The Fidgets!

[via Laughing Squid via Geekologie]