Strange input and strange peripherals: RoenDi smart knob thinks outside the box

When it comes to design decisions, we are often advised to “think outside the box”. This is usually good advice, if a little abstract – it could really mean something. But it turns out that someone took this Nifty with a small smart knob display and input device quite literally.

[Dimitar]Inspiration for RoenDi – “Rotary Encoder and Display” – comes from an unusual source: a car dashboard, and in particular, a versatile knob that is often created in a car’s climate control cluster. Designed for ease of use while driving while creating as little scattering as possible, such knobs often combine a rotating encoder with one or more indicators or buttons. RoenDi builds on a theme by placing a 1.7 ″ round LCD display in the middle of a ring connected to an Alps rotary encoder, allowing you to customize the knob for whatever you want to present. The backplane has a powerful STM32 microcontroller with lots of GPIO pins broken, so customization and interfacing is limited only by your imagination. The design is open source, so you can either create your own or support the project through crowdfunding.

In contrast to the Haptic Smart Knob, we’ve been seeing something lately that has a round LCD in the center, with RoenDi’s response encoder’s physical detention. We think both devices are great, and they fill the various niches of the new input ecosystem.

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