Product Idea: Radio Rewind

I’ve had this idea for a while, but listening to The Sunday Edition on CBC this morning I had a clear idea of the actual user experience. The radio was on, but I was in and out of the kitchen when I heard an interesting bit of an interview (NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, as it turns out). Just as I really began to pay attention, the interview was over.

It would be simple enough for radio manufacturers to add a little flash memory to their products and allow users to ‘rewind’ the live stream they are listening to. Most live-streaming video interfaces already have this feature. For your standard tabletop radio, imagine a couple of simple push buttons:

Tap the 30 second button to go back a bit, or twice to go back a minute. The 5 minute button takes you back a bit further. The specific durations aren’t important, but that’s the simple idea. A car radio might have a slightly different interface as it already has multifunction knobs for volume and tuning. Tap the rewind button and use the tuning knob to roll back in 5 second increments.

I’m surprised someone hasn’t created this already – (update – Sirius has this in many of their models). I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve zoned out as they read the weather and don’t catch what the announce has said until they’re onto Peterborough and the Kawarthas. Or missed that artist name, or wanted to hear a really interesting 15-minute interview from the top.

update Jan 12/14: Just to note a couple more user stories to this – once you have set the rewind function it will continue to buffer and time shift your radio stream (i.e you will always be 30 minutes or whatever behind the live broadcast) until you a) turn off the radio b) press and hold one of the rewind buttons for 3 seconds (some sort of audio cue would confirm). Also, a slow-strobing LED would indicate when the radio steam currently playing is time shifted. A digital readout telling you exactly how many minutes the audio has been shifted might be nice, but seems like overkill.


I prefer minimal but well thought-out interfaces, the less clutter the better. The Tivoli Model One (with the very handy addition of Bluetooth input) is a can’t miss example of a perfectly designed product.