Made On Earth — RFID Radios

Craft & Design


Matt Brown’s laser-cut RFID (radio frequency identification) radios were first conceived while he studied interaction design at the Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden. A design firm he was applying to at the time asked him to do a “personal project around music.”

He approached the challenge excitedly, thinking about ways he might re-construe classic forms with new technologies. And although he ultimately wasn’t offered the job, an innovative combination of RFID, internet radio, and laser-cut technologies was born.

Brown’s idea is to affix an RFID chip inside a laser-cut, flat-pack paper radio, and then pair the radio with a speaker base with an RFID reader.

Each radio would be designed by a different musician or artist. When the radio is placed over the speaker, the station shifts to that artist’s pre-selection.

“This system tries to add a little bit of fun to internet radio and give people a connection with the artists they choose,” says Brown.

Inspired by things that are neglected or obsolete, Brown strives to find ways to make them useful and enjoyable again. Like many of us, he feels that certain vintage aesthetics are superior to much of what’s produced today.

“It just seems like people got away with more interesting designs in the 50s, 60s, and 70s,” Brown says. “I go to a lot of thrift stores and spend a lot of time on eBay. You start to get this library of details in your brain, and then when you sketch out a new design it’s a strange combination of all these details.”

The RFID radio idea was Brown’s first experimentation with a laser cutter and paper, and it seems to have lent itself well to his minimalist, retro designs.

More of Brown’s Designs:

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