Wanted: The Hidden Radio, A Chic Mini Stereo With An Ingenious UI

Don't be fooled by its small size: This discreet gadget delivers up to 80 decibels.

Not too long ago, when it came to hi-fi systems, bigger was better. But now that we can squeeze our entire music collection into a device that fits into our palm, why would we want hulking black boxes for speakers? Rather, these days, the objective is to design systems that are as unobtrusive as possible. If they don’t blend in like upholstered furniture, they should at least be small. That’s the thinking behind the Hidden Radio & Bluetooth Speaker, a Kickstarter project that packs booming sound into a minimalist package about the size of an ordinary light bulb.

Designed by John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen and Vitor Santa Maria, the interface is completely intuitive: Twist the cap to turn the radio on; the farther you lift the top, the louder it gets (up to 80 decibels, which the designers estimate is enough sound to fill a large apartment). The speaker connects wirelessly to any smartphone, tablet, or computer via Bluetooth. Don’t have Bluetooth? Fear not: The unit comes with a 3.5-millimeter audio input plug and a built-in AM/FM radio.

Van Den Nieuwenhuizen and Santa Maria have already invested $50K of their own cash and must raise an additional $150,000 to produce the first 1,000 units. (Just $20K shy of their $150K goal, they’re well on their way to being fully funded by January 18, 2012.) To donate to the project, go here; for $119, you get a metallic silver radio/speaker, which will retail for $175.

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