I love finding new and interesting advances in radio. It’s one of the reasons I was brought in to write this blog. Today, I have a very interesting one, although I think it may be a while before it evolves into something more than an oddity.
The device is the Flexio solar-powered radio. It’s the size and thickness of a bookmark, and runs on a self-contained solar battery. What really grabs me though is the fact that it is made by printing. That’s right, the circuits are printed onto paper along with the flexible speaker and solar cell. While the idea of printed electronics like this is something that science fiction geeks and technophiles (I am both, I’ll admit it) have been aware of for some years now, to most of the general public, this is an almost magical advance.
As one would expect, there are limitations to the device. For one thing, it can only receive one signal; there is no way as yet to print a tuner. While this seems like a major stumbling block, it actually opens the way for dedicated promotions.
The folks over at Yanko Designs seem to agree with me here:
Flexio is this really awesome radio that’s solar powered and portable. I’m willing to overlook the “only one fixed FM channel” stand for the cute little paper packaging it comes in. I’m sure the dynamics of manufacturing this are going to be reasonable, because one can even use it for promotions and gifts…like ask someone to advertise on its package. The innovative factor comes from the flexible speaker & flexible solar cell.
Designers Wu Kun-chia, Wang Shih-ju, Chen Ming-daw and Liou Chang-ho certainly deserve kudos for this little proof-of-concept gem. While this initial offering is somewhat limited, we are only looking at the beginning of its evolution. There are already rumors that it could be modified to pick up wi-fi signals, thus bringing possible Internet radio capabilities.
Take a look at the press release materials behind the “Continue Reading” link below.
If nothing else, the Flexio gives us two things, a look at just how amazingly portable radio is becoming and a huge dose of novelty appeal. I’m sure I’m not the only one here thinking “stocking stuffer” when I see this.