Theo Tveterås and Lars Marcus Vedeler established Skrekkøgle--which, according to Google, translates from Norwegian to English as “horror lizard”--as a means to experiment with their weird and wonderful design ideas. And experiment they have definitely done, having self-produced everything from open-source-hardware-hack-Kindle-covers to ash portraits of loved ones using their cremated remains (though they’ve since discontinued that service).
Plugg is one of their latest prototyped projects, and the simple-on-the-outside device is a clever new addition to the ever-growing glut of portable speakers. While we’ve recently seen round models that turn on when you connect them to your smartphone, units that “hang up” like a telephone, those shaped like a pill, and touch-activated haptic types, the aptronymic Plugg functions as you might expect, given its name; an oversized cork plug in the top controls the sound.
As with many of their endeavors, the process involved a fair amount of good old-fashioned trial and error. Plugg’s mechanical guts are a custom mash-up of radios, a power adapter, and trigger components for the on/off control. “We mostly just ripped apart and combined existing stuff in ways they probably weren’t meant to be,” Vedeler says. “Though it’s a good place to start, utilizing existing consumer electronics and components can be a real pain in a lot of ways; for example, they’re only built to act in one specific way and do nothing else, which means you have to play along with the component’s own stupid rules.”
Sometimes these stupid rules offered a learning experience that, by necessity, changed their creative approach. For instance, the initial plans incorporated an “invisible” magnetic switch activated by the cork. “After assembling it for the first time we got a face-palm moment when we realized that the magnets inside, which move the air into sound waves, were actually canceling out the switch.”
It took eight complete build iterations to perfect smooth operation between the various component parts, and in the end, friction saved the day: Pressing the cork down into the hole activates a trigger that turns Plugg off; lifting it out again drags against another switch in the interior wall that then turns it on.
Measurements of the yellow chassis were determined by inner workings like circuit-board dimensions, but the aesthetics were all Skrekkøgle. “The clean plastic cube reflects us digging basic geometry and bright colors, as well as the contrast between materials,” Vedeler says.
Though Plugg is a one-off, the fellas are “interested in getting it out in the wild,” and are currently developing a webshop which should be up and running in February.