Type: Student
Category: Eat, Play, Sleep
Date: Jul, 2017




A minimalist wooden music player inviting tactile interaction via programmable wooden blocks, recapturing the tactile charm of vinyl records with contemporary music formats.

The Whole Story

BD6touch is a minimalist wooden music player that invites a tactile user experience through a series of interactive wooden blocks. Seeking to recapture the tactile charm of vinyl records, placing a block on the player reveals the music contained within, while lifting and replacing the block changes tracks akin to the action of a record needle. Up to twelve programmable blocks can summon any number of music tracks from local files, network files, internet radio stations or Spotify playlists. With the convenience of internet music streaming and ability to play high definition lossless audio, BD6touch can satisfy our modern music demands in a simple and intuitive way.

After designing a simple wooden ‘smart’ music player for people experiencing dementia, I wanted to explore the process of interface simplification further while adapting a player to my own music listening habits. In reflecting on music experiences over the decades I lamented the loss of an intuitive physical medium and sought to recapture its cognitive simplicity. The single visible control on the BD6touch is a wooden volume knob that also functions as ‘pause’ when turned to zero volume. Feedback is provided by a circle of twelve diffused LED lights forming part of the surface. Functions are indicated by patterns of light, while the volume level is represented by the number of lights present. Music is selected by placing a chosen block within the centre of the LED circle, while a block is present music will continue to play, lifting and replacing the block will change tracks.

The enclosure is constructed from thirteen stacked layers of laser cut plywood, nine of which are unique and serve different functional purposes. The first few layers form an inner web like structure adding rigidity where needed, but ultimately maximising the internal volume to aid speaker performance. Undulating interior walls form a wave pattern which provides rigidity without bulk and reduces undesirable internal acoustic reflections. The four exposed oak fixing dowels and CNC routed oak feet and volume knob provide a visual contrast to break up the plywood repetition.

Australian wood forms the majority of the BD6touch as a natural, renewable and aesthetically pleasing resource. The plantation grown hoop pine plywood with FSC / PEFC certification and E0 formaldehyde emission rating is sourced from a local manufacturer who focuses on waste minimisation and responsible chain of custody. The music blocks, volume knob, feet, and fixing dowels are made from sustainably managed Tasmanian oak with PEFC certification. The speaker fabric is collected from old manufacturer samples and offcuts, reusing an otherwise wasted resource. Natural carnauba and beeswax provide a silky smooth hand rubbed finish as an alternative to more toxic polyurethanes and varnishes. To conserve power, a compact, energy-efficient, low distortion digital amplifier forms the basis of the player and is powered down during pause or after ten minutes of inactivity. The programmable blocks are endlessly reusable, eliminating the on-going waste and clutter that accompanied traditional mediums.

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