Product Hack found in the Back Streets of Hong Kong

Sound System Hack from Hong Kong
A colleague recently shared with me an interesting product proposition he purchased. It’s not really a product proposition as such, but an interesting mix of different electronic components slapped together in a “why did I not think of that” manner. It was purchased for under USD $50 from the back streets of Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po electronics district.
Sound System Hack from Hong Kong
This sound system, has a simple pair of unadorned speakers, shocking neon colored LCD display, volume dial, and a radio antenna. What is interesting is the built in MP3 player that plays media from a ubiquitous SD Card or USB thumb drive slot housed on the top. Best of all this MP3/USB player cum radio, can be operated by the power mains or by its built in rechargeable battery. What more would you need for a portable entertainment system?
Sound System Hack from Hong Kong
This product will likely not win any beauty contests or design awards. However if this was hacked together by an entrepreneurial electronic shop owner, there must be a market for it. Strangely, I can’t think of any brands that actually offer a product similar to this. (Please let me know if you know of any?) I wonder why is that so, as I would imagine (research data aside) it would be a quick sales kill. Then again this product would not be something consumer research will tell you. It probably took observation and a good understanding of consumer behavior and purchasing habits, something a shopkeeper would be in a perfect position to obtain.
What I also find particularly refreshing, is the lack of serious graphic user interfaces we have come to expect in such digital media players. I believe the MP3 playback in this device runs in a folder/alphabetical order. These days the man on the street has come to a level of computer literacy, that dragging and dropping MP3 files on to a SD Card or USB Stick is not an issue.
It is interesting to ponder what happens to high tech electronics when they become commodities.

4 Comments
  • Rizki Harit

    February 22, 2010 at 10:12 am Reply

    You can found something like this almost nearly everywhere in China OEM. My previous company that I work for, POLYTRON (Hartono Istana Teknologi – Indonesia), has done it 2 years ago (with some tweaking in speaker quality). I remember, my boss also bring a similar device like this (I don’t really remember, but i guess it’s Panasonic) to scrutinize. You know, break it down, tearing it apart, and thinking what part we could improve.
    By the way, it is interesting that the design is look similar too.

  • George I

    February 22, 2010 at 10:42 pm Reply

    Couple of thoughts – “when they become commodities”? Really, I thought electronics have been commodities for good many decades now. And those who win, win by design.
    The other thing I though of is the SD input – yes he may have seen that need on the streets of Hong Kong, but without statisting in front of me, I think most people would prefer to just connect their device via usb and download/upload stuff.

  • DT

    February 22, 2010 at 11:06 pm Reply

    @Rizki: Thanks for sharing and please keep in touch.
    @George: Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. I would say some are, but not all are commodities. A commodity is like rice or salt. Generic, cheap and essentially no different from the competition. Transistor radios, MP3 players, digital watches, DVD players are good examples. The rest don’t qualify simply due to the cost, for example OLED TVs or Blu-Ray players.
    I think you need to think of the SD Card as a convenient means to store media nothing more or less.

  • Ingo

    February 23, 2010 at 12:42 am Reply

    Think these devices are already wide spread. Saw someone in a subway recently, rapping over lyrics played by a portable radio, with an usb-stick attached.
    There are also some at amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-keywords=boombox+sd+usb&x=0&y=0
    Although these have no build in rechargeable batteries.
    Never the less, I love the approach to production and the uniqueness of the device!

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