Olinda Radio Lets You Hear What Your Friends Are Listening to

Ever wondered what stations your friends are listening to just at the same moment as you spin the dial on your own radio? Well, that's where Olinda comes in: a working prototype commissioned by the BBC, it's got a plug-in module that lights up when your friends are online. A simple push of the corresponding button, and via Wi-Fi and the BBC's "playing now" service you get to listen along with your pal. There're other innovations too, including a double-tuning dial that lets you switch to stations alphabetically or just choose among your favorites. And because the design is modular it allows for expansion with other widget-like plug-in units.

There's the "Klippit" module, which has a single button you press when you find a radio program you like: it gets added as a favorite on your Facebook profile, has an audio snippet recorded, and extra info gets emailed to you. There's the "Volume Voting" module that rates popularity with how much you turn up the sound when your favorite tune comes on. A push-to-talk module lets you have a quick VOIP chat with a friend, perhaps about the program you're listening to, and there's an MP3 recorder-player, and a phone-charging module too.

Designers Schulze and Webb really envisage their device being a physical social hub for your home too: they suggest a key-storage module that sets up the radio to your user profile, and handily stores your keys; and a kids "tear-off" fluffy portable module that stores most-listened to stuff, and glows brightly when the program is due on.

Despite all these extra modules being hypothetical, there's some clever design here exploring social networking, radio-listening habits and the like. But we can't help but think it's based around the wrong sort of technology: isn't radio a bit passé now? Make it internet-radio based, and we'd be very interested indeed. [Schulze and Webb via Like Cool]