Computers give you sophisticated ways of connecting to online music. But do you ever miss that physical object of the radio? Or wish that a speaker could be just as smart when, with a sigh of relief, you’ve pressed the laptop lid shut?

Skube is a design experiment from Copenhagen focused on making portable devices more connected and communal sharing easier. They’re speakers that you might consider members of the Internet of Things, using Arduino and Xbee wireless networking to make the device mobile while piping sounds from Spotify and

Here’s some demo footage of the speakers in action:

Skube – A & Spotify Radio from Andrew Nip on Vimeo.

It’s definitely in prototype phase – AppleScript and Max/MSP get involved in order to prove the concept – but the interaction modes are already well thought-out, and it’s not hard to imagine an even more useful standalone version. And it provides one look at how Internet-connected devices might take on a life of their own, powered by Web data, gestures, and physical design. Computers and iPhones and such don’t have to be the only gadgets to consider. In contrast with proprietary objects, one can also imagine open devices taking on added life with modifications by their owners – that is, you wouldn’t be restricted to lock-in with certain services, and could retrofit conventional speakers and the like for Internet use with open source hardware.

And I’m sure this will give more fodder to people at hackdays and the like. Speaking of which, Andrew has also produced a behind-the-scenes video showing all the tech ingredients that bring this together:

Inside the Skube from Andrew Nip on Vimeo.

And yeah, I kinda want one.

Thanks to co-creator Andrew Spitz for sharing his work; see also his Sound + Design blog.

Skube – A & Spotify Radio {+ tangible}

Details – and note the contribution of one of the Arduino originators:

Project by:
Andrew Nip –
Andrew Spitz –
Ruben van de Vleuten –
Malthe Borch –
As part of the Tangible User Interface module at CIID ran by Vinay Venkatraman, David Cuartielles, Richard Shed, and Tomek Ness.
Artist – Kirsten & Marie
Track – My Dear
Album – Discover the Sound of Denmark

Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design