News Reader

Experiment, Physical, Web


Part of my morning routine is reading the news. I mostly do this while I have breakfast, so coffee in one hand, a slice of bread in the other. Most of the day I work with a computer, so using a computer even in the morning is not ideal for me. I also tried watching a compressed version of the news, but these are mostly already outdated – a lot can happen in a few hours.

To better deal with this problem and having a relaxed morning with as little computer-usage as possible, I created a physical item to read the news for me. I chose a wooden «N» letter as the interface. Once placed on its base it will start reading the first article of my favourite online newspaper. Rotating the letter skips to the next article.

Technical Details

To make it as easy to realise my idea as possible I disassembled an old USB-keyboard. When pressing a key, an electrical circuit is closed, resulting in the character to appear on the computer. Using the same principle I open and close different circuits when the wooden letter (which has metallic contacts on its bottom) is placed on the based or rotated.

On the software-side I implemented a key-logger to detect when one of the special characters from the physical news reader are being generated. Once the «N» is placed on its base, the program will start, fetch the latest news using an RSS-feed and start reading the first article. For this I used an RSS-library in Java. To read it out load I used the macOS say-Terminal-command.



  • Year: 2012
  • Course: Musical Interfaces at University of Applied Sciences Potsdam
  • Supervisor: Stefan Hermann