From face-scanning smartphones to always-listening voice interfaces, we’ve come a long way since using dials and knobs to control the world around us. As a natural side effect, we’ve also created a much larger arena to play with interface design. The Pour Reception radio from interaction designer Tore Knudsen is one such project that aims to challenge our perception of cultural understanding and what an interface is or can be.

Aside from the striking Dieter Rams-approved industrial design exterior, the Pour Reception radio is built like your average radio including internal speakers and an AUX input. What’s different, however, are the two glasses that rest on the top surface. Rather than knobs, dials, or buttons, a user turns the radio on by adding water to one or both of the glasses. Once the radio is on, fine-tuning channel selections, filtering distortion, and adjusting volume are all achieved by pouring water into or touching the glass vessels.

“The ambition is that after interacting with Pour Reception, you will be more reflective on how you interact with other digital artifacts – maybe you could also begin to see new things in other everyday objects and have a more playful meeting with the technologies that surround us,” explains Knudsen.

The technology behind the unusual interface is smart but quite simple: a capacitive sensor makes readings from the conductive materials using Arduino. Using machine learning, gestures made with the glasses are mapped to commands for controlling the radio.

“Pour Reception turns two familiar concepts upside down: the radio medium and two glasses of water,” adds Knudsen. “It is the combination of these two ordinary concepts that make it a playful and surprisingly experience – most likely no one has ever been asked to use their knowledge from interacting with a glass of water to control the radio with (or any technology for that matter).”

Well, we’d have to agree. Find out more about the unusual and thought-provoking project here.

Author

Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.