Electronic devices in our environment increasingly tend to sacrifice sensible physical interactions in favor of more cost effective manufacturing methods. Qiro is a bluetooth speaker that is interacted with through gestures that follow an intuitive narrative instead of using displays and buttons.

Qiro was created during a semester project at the Weißensee School of Art and Design together with Ningyuan Xu.

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This semester project was all about the body language of machines – how we can interact with devices by using physical gestures. Ningyuan and I decided on working on bluetooth speakers since we had frustrating experiences with existing ones in the past. Their buttons often aren’t distinguishable by touch and seldom follow an intuitive logic. Why do we need to long-press a button in order to pair with our phones?
We started by exploring different geometries and transformations that could create a body language that would provide a better interaction with a bluetooth speaker.
This cube, which can be unfolded to twice its volume is not only able to represent music volume through physical volume, but also resembles a mouth, which could be utilized narratively.
Thus, this transformation offers interactions, that allow for a more intuitive and sensible interaction with the speaker.
One of the early functional prototypes, changing its volume based on the opening of its “mouth”.
Calibration of the bluetooth module by using an oscilloscope.
In order to make all the components fit into the small body of qiro, we designed and build our own pcb.
All electronics of the working prototype.
Different materials and cutting patterns for the mouth‘s membrane.
Finding the form of the hand strap.
Multiple materials, sizes and weights were tested.
Autodesk Fusion 360 was used for modeling Qiro’s geometry according to the motion of its living hinge.
final design and gestures
The gesture of opening Qiro serves multiple purposes: Qiro wakes up and then sets its volume according to how far its mouth has been opened. The light behind the hand strap also briefly shows the battery life.
When Qiro’s mouth is almost shut, its volume is naturally low. This gesture can be used to let Qiro whisper private voice mails. This is an excellent example of the affordance of interaction based on physical gestures.
Shushing Qiro by placing your hand on its mouth will pause the music.
Ningyuan and I created a fully working prototype, working with all gestures!
Simon von Schmude