NFC Timeline Radio

New Features, Classic Design?


In a lab project at the department of human-centered ubiquitous media we were challenged to create a modern music player which references traditional radio design.


Our prototype has two e-paper screens, one showing the currently playing song and one showing a selection of songs of a particular genre.


The song selection is analog to the radio station selection on FM radios: Just move the red bar over the desired song on the timeline and enjoy. To choose a genre, just place a new nfc tag on top of the device.

Our complete NFC Radio.

Our complete NFC Radio.

German radio receiver “Carmen” from Nordmende, image from flickr

German radio receiver “Carmen” from Nordmende, image from flickr.

Classic Radio Elements


Devices from the likes of Braun, Grundig, Nordmende and Telefunken have inspired our project to create a modern radio device with the majestic looks of the past.


Thus, our radio is made out of wood, with warm-colored miniature light bulbs and very haptic dials to turn.


With e-ink displays, the device never distracts by being overly bright or unnatural-looking.

Construction Process


Our final prototype contains two Raspberry Pis as well as an Arduino to drive the two e-ink displays, an NFC reader as well as all the analog potentiometers and motors.


We laser-cut our case out of MDF wood and engraved labels for “Volume”, “Song”, “Play” and the NFC-reader on top.


On the bottom of our larger screen we’ve mounted a motorized fader, usually known from mixer consoles, to move the physical red bar across the screen.

A preview of the lasercut wooden frontal and top part of our radio.

Laser cutting to cunstruct our wooden radio.

The Working Prototype


You can find the code written by Peter Ehrich and me on Github available under the MIT license, along with installation instructions.


We’ve also written a popular instruction guide about the device featured on intructables.


The guide contains all the laser cutting files, part recommendations, fritzing sketches as well as a plethora of images of the construction process.