Listening to music became a truly personal experience when Sony first introduced the Walkman all those years ago. Technological advances since then have seen music players store more songs, become more compact and include color screens - and now they're even beginning to liberate themselves from the shackles of the battery. To achieve its battery free charge, the Chukka Kinetic Music Player combines electromagnetic induction with a unique design that positively encourages the user to twirl it around the fingers, throw it about and otherwise toy with it. The result - an eco-friendly personal media player that also gives you the recognized relaxation and stress relieving benefits of tactile interaction and repetitive physical motion (like Greek worry beads komboloi).

Tumble and twirl

The brainchild of UK designer Tom Mascall, the Chukka consists of two main sections, two control beads and two additional beads which can be removed to more resemble the begleri for manipulation and tricks. Inside one of the main sections is an electromagnetic inducer which turns any motion or vibration into an electric charge. So the more the device is twirled, twisted and tortured the more charge is produced.

The kinetic charge is then used to supplement the power needs of the music player. "Charge created through movement, through advancements in the Faraday technology and the device's simplicity, is effective and efficient. However, when the device is connected to a computer (PC or Mac) via USB the device receives additional charge," Mascall explained.

For the less energetic, even the act of changing tracks or altering the volume produces some charge. Power is stored in an electric double-layer capacitor (super capacitor) which allows for continual charging even when it's just being used as a stress-busting tool and the music player is turned off.

At the other end of a highly flexible data cable is the player which consists of a headphone socket, an input for loading the songs onto the player, the logic board and the 2Gb or 4Gb of memory. A stainless steel inner casing not only protects the workings of the device but also adds some weight for a better feel. Audio formats supported include MP3, OGG, FLAC, and WMA.

Like an iPod Shuffle there's no screen on the device so "track selection and volume is controlled through turning the end beads within the corresponding end sections. Creating continuous control rather than buttons, also avoiding unintended changes without the need for a key lock," advised Mascall. "Power and play/pause is controlled through clicking the beads into the sections."

With all six beads in place the unit mimics anti-stress worry beads and encourages active manipulation. The outer casing of the beads is made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) which can be recycled and is easy to keep clean. Pulling back the soft outer casing of the main section will reveal a cable detach screw, allowing for the unit to be separated into component pieces for repair, replacement or customization.

Got to get me one of those...

Sadly the device is not yet commercially available as it's still in development but working models have been created and can be seen in action at Mascall's Chukka page.

If you would like to kept informed on the progress of the player (custom prints for the casings are currently in development) or would like to help Mascall see it through to mass production, get in touch.

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