User Interface Ideas – Soundbox

As mentioned earlier, the idea is to make a simple and intuitive sound recording and playback device. This means no tiny LCD screens with fiddly menus to be navigated, just big controls whose function becomes obvious as soon as they’re manipulated.

We want, at a minimum, a device that can record and playback a single sound. Ideally, it should work with several.

The device should be easy to grip without accidentally activating its controls. The dictaphones used previously were good for this, as they have a large and easy to press record button.

A conveniently-sized sweet container, next to a omnidirectional microphone.

A conveniently-sized sweet container, next to a omnidirectional microphone.

It would be good if we had different actions to activate different functions of the device, as this should make it easier for users with limited muscle control to select the function they want – having tiny buttons next to each other is bad.

A secondary method of input was suggested as a ‘pullstring’, inspired by toys which pulling a string activates a noise. A string also naturally invites pulling, which would allow users to discover how to operate the device through playing with it.

As many senses as possible should be utilised in controlling and providing feedback from the device. As the most complex function is likely to be selecting which ‘save slot’ is to be used, the current main idea is to have a rotating section on the device, which ‘clicks’ as it is moved into place. Different textures and bright colours should also be used to indicate the selection for visually-impaired users.

Finally, as the ultimate aim of the device is to allow users to collect sounds and integrate them into circuits of their own design, some sort of connector capable of interfacing with other bits of electronics should be present on the device. We have done some investigation into ‘littleBits‘, which are small boards with snap-together magnetic connectors. The device should play whichever sound is selected when it receives a signal.


A quick design in Solidworks- the right image shows the microphone holes and the ‘click’ mechanism indents.

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