A Portable Speaker That Kicks Hard, With An Ingenious UI

Once a Kickstarter baby, the Hidden Radio is now available for pre-order.

We’ve told gads of Kickstarter mega-success stories on Co.Design—witness Scott Wilson’s LunaTik writstband for the Nano, the e-ink Pebble watch, and the Ouya gaming system. But projects don’t have to break the million-dollar barrier and promise to disrupt the universe to garner attention. Remember the Hidden Radio? The portable Bluetooth speaker and AM/FM radio was an instant smash—well exceeding its target over $125,000 when it made its Kickstarter debut last November—and is now available to the public for pre-order.

That’s right on schedule—a refreshing turn of events after other popular projects have postponed deadlines after experiencing major setbacks. In the case of Pebble, the inventors had to hire outside help to meet demand and the projected delivery date is now murky. It’s not that Hidden Radio’s John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen and Vitor Santa Maria didn’t experience hiccups along the way, but their extensive prototyping at the front end allowed them to resolve problems easily. Plus, the larger order (10,000 units versus the initial target of 1,000) allowed them to upgrade some of the features, increasing the size of the speaker, which now delivers 90 decibels of sound, and replacing the removable batteries with an internal lithium-ion, which lasts 15 hours and can be recharged via a mini USB cable.

The ingenious user interface, however, remained unchanged: Turn the cap to turn it on and continue twisting until you reach the preferred volume level. "It has 360-degree sound," Van Den Nieuwenhuizen says, "so no matter where you are in the room, you can still hear the same great sound." The setup is also simple and intuitive: Once you take it out of the box, it automatically goes into pairing mode and connects to your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Van Den Nieuwenhuizen says that Kickstarter backers will receive their radios in September. The general public may pre-order them at a discounted price for delivery in October. Metallic silver and graphite black are available for $149.95; pure white is $179.95.

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  • fotografer

    just to be clear, the project creators have made alot of changes AFTER the funding without any input from those who backed the project. many of the changes have in fact significantly delayed the project. they have still not confirmed the shipping, even though the project should have delivered in march! on-schedule it is not. the creators of the project have also become completely unresponsive to the backers, and are now only interested in promoting and selling more, untested, unproven products. as a backer, i now regret ever getting involved in this project. it is by far the worst of the seven projects i have backed.

  • Scott

    "That’s right on schedule"

    Ha!  It was originally supposed to ship in March, then it was April, then it was July, now it's September.

    They've been up front about the delays, but no part of this has run to schedule.

  • Phile

    "increasing the size of the speaker, which now delivers 90 decibels of sounds".

    Ok, stand in a room with a mid to high level stereo rig and a sound meter. Turn up the volume until the meter reads 90dB. (THX reference level is 85dB.) If your system can hack it, you would need to shout to a person standing next to you for them to hear you.

    This coffee can of high-frequency noise puts out 90dB. Sure it does. Sounds like someone is trying to race Bose to the bottom of the marketing hype barrel.

  • Jon

    Speakers are usually measured at a distance of 1m. It is quite likely that the system is completely capable of producing 90dB at a distance of 1m. It won't fill a room with sound at 90dB, but it will definitely be capable of producing reasonable listening levels.

  • artdrectr

    90db...maybe we're supposed to wear them like headphones! 
    Fun design though.