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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