We're big fans of whimsical home gadget ideas here on The Ambient, an alarm clock that wakes you with coffee say, even if they're not the most practical in use.
Enter Pour Reception, a gesture based concept for a radio - with internal speakers and AUX input - that is controlled via water in two glasses on a smooth surface on top. The idea is that you turn the radio on by adding water to one (or both) of the glasses and then pouring water from one glass to the other to tune it and switch channels.
Sticking your finger into the water lowers the volume - this is a "playful radio" remember - and touching your fingers to or grabbing a glass with water in finetunes the radio.
The team of designers, Tore Knudsen, Simone Okholm Hansen and Victor Permild, essentially turned the glasses of water into capacitive sensors, conducting a very small amount of electricity, with an Arduino board powering the set up. By doing this, they turned water into a "digital material interface" as the title of the project suggests.
Now, the team behind Pour Reception, all Malm√∂ University students, also wanted to "challenge our cultural perception of an interface".
Would you choose pouring water over dials and buttons? Probably not but this type of experiment signals how designers are working to hide technology in the home and build controls into natural materials, stylish surfaces and everyday actions.
Staring at screens all day can sometimes lead to craving interaction with reassuringly natural materials like wood, stone or water. Plus all that pouring looks quite relaxing.