Modern art, or wireless speaker? Meet HiddenRadio

How do you stand out in an increasingly crowded market? In the case of HiddenRadio, a new wireless speaker, it’s by aiming for a truly distinctive design that’s more art than tech.

The result of five years of development and an incredibly effective Kickstarter campaign (it raised $938,772 from just 5,328 backers), HiddenRadio is a minimalist BlueTooth speaker with no visible controls. To turn it on, you simply need to twist the speaker, which is also how you control the volume.

What’s most striking about the HiddenRadio is that, without being told it’s actually a wireless speaker, you could easily mistake it for a simple piece of sculpted modern art. Given that it’s competing against the entrenched JawBone Jambox, which sports a boxy Yves Behar design, it’s even more impressive that HiddenRadio’s design manages to stand out.

HiddenRadio was developed by John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen and Vitor Santa Maria, who created the company Hidden specifically to realize their dream for a wireless speaker. The pair weren’t able to deliver on all of the promises of their Kickstarter campaign — the HiddenRadio has 15 hours of battery life (comparable with the Jambox), not the promised 30, and there’s also no speakerphone capability — but it’s still noteworthy that they managed to make their simple design come to life.

Van Den Nieuwenhuizen said he and Santa Maria already had some background on designing a wireless speaker from their work with big tech companies, but they still learned a lot from developing HiddenRadio: “The actual design inspiration is really 1 or 2 percent of the overall process. Going there, sitting in the factory, watching the plastic get injection molded and see how to fix some things that go wrong, that’s what really geared us up for the future.”

In addition to supporting wireless BlueTooth audio, the HiddenRadio also includes an FM tuner, as well as a line-in jack. All of the connections are available underneath the HiddenRadio, so they’re in no way distracting from the speaker’s design.

I had a chance to test out the HiddenRadio for several days, and I quickly found myself wishing all of my other gadgets had such intuitive controls. It’s not a speaker that can fill an entire room, but it’s useful for adding some beats to intimate locations, especially where it’s difficult to put speakers normally. Quality-wise, the HiddenRadio sounds similar to the Jawbone Jambox. And since it has a rubberized base, it won’t rock itself off of shelves, a problem common to the Jambox.

The speaker is currently available for pre-order on Hidden’s website in silver, white, and black for $150 (though the price will jump up to $190 after September 30). HiddenRadio will be available in retail stores early next year.

Check out a demo of the HiddenRadio by Van Den Nieuwenhuizen below.

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