Rethinking home audio and understanding how and where people share music was the jumping point for our tangible user interface project. Through our user research, we realized that as we are moving more towards a digital and online music listening experience, current portable music players are not adapted for this environment. And sharing music in communal spaces is neither convenient or easy.
The result of our exploration is Skube, a music player that allows you to explore and share music to facilitate communal listening in shared spaces. There are two modes, Playlist and Discovery. Playlist plays the tracks on your Skube, while Discovery looks for tracks similar to the ones on your Skube so you can discover new music.
The interface is designed to be intuitive and tangible. Flipping the Skube changes the modes, tapping will play or skip songs and flipping a Skube on its front face will turn it off. The physical shape informs the user the ways they are able to connect the music players together. This allows different Skubes to be in either Discovery mode or Playlist mode when connected to other players. When multiple Skubes are connected together,they act as one music player and they contribute to a global playlist that is played on all them.
HOW IT WORKS
It is a fully working prototype through the combination of using Arduino, Max/MSP and a XBee wireless network. We access two APIs (application programming interface) to enable the Skubes. The Last.fm API is accessed to populate the Skube with tracks and using their algorithms to find similar music when in Discover mode. Spotify’s API is to play the music. We use XBees for the communication between the Skubes and the computer containing custom software.
This project was created in collaboration with Andrew Spitz, Ruben van der Vleuten and Martin Malthe Borch.