Posts Tagged ‘last.fm’

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Tangible user interfaces for home audio

June 25, 2012

Last week, I was invited to the Copenhagen Institute for Interaction Design to see student projects created during a four-week module on Tangible User Interfaces for home audio. I talked to one of the lead faculty, Vinay Venkatraman, and he said the theme was inspired by a recent trip to China coupled with his knowledge of Danish audio companies: while there was a lot of emphasis on the technical aspects of audio, companies weren’t giving much thought to the interaction design elements.

It was a fruitful area for the six student teams to explore. The projects mostly focused on two spaces: interfaces for home environments (especially the kitchen), and music discovery, especially within the users’ own collections. One piece for the kitchen was designed for the refrigerator door: it consisted of fist-sized ‘building blocks’ that connected together audio controls (volume, shuffle, source, skip). The students had set it up on an actual refrigerator door, which led to a moment of cross-cultural confusion. One of its creators said, “But this is a prototype–of course, the real thing would be smaller,” and I responded by saying, no, you’d want it to be nice and chunky so you could hit the controls with your wrist or arm if your hands were dirty from food prep. It took me a moment to realize that I was thinking of US-sized refrigerators (a little to a lot bigger than her demo door) and she was thinking of standard European refrigerators (a lot smaller!).

But my favourite piece, pictured above, was called Past.fm. Designed by Razan Sadeq, Hideaki Matsui, and Zubin Pastakia, it was rooted in how people associate particular songs with specific time periods, and vice versa. The little ball at the left is a token, which links to a particular Last.fm user. The slider then maps onto a date range, say April 2005 to June 2012. At each point, it plays your most-played song that month, and displays the title and artist in the display. The use of tokens means that you can listen to other users’ music history, or even things like ‘the most-played hip-hop of the last ten years.’ As someone with a carful of mix CDs with labels like “May 2008″, I really loved this idea of having a temporal jukebox.

As of this writing, they’re not up, but full details of all the student projects should be here shortly.

Thanks to Mayo Nissen for the intro, and Alie Rose for the invitation to visit CIID.

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Music Hack Day, the Stockholm edition

January 31, 2010

This weekend was Music Hack Day Stockholm (you may recall posts about the Music Hack Day in Boston a few months ago), and I spent far too much of my weekend following the events via their live feed – a little glimpse into the future of  how we interact with music.  I think my takeaway for the weekend was twofold: i) damn it, I really wish I wasn’t a mediocre coder and ii) Can we hurry up and have Spotify in the US already?

Some fave hacks out of the weekend (you can see a full list here):

HacKey: Matt Ogle‘s lovely hack takes your Last.fm listening history and generates a pie chart to tell you what proportion of your favourite music is in different keys. And if you click on a wedge, it’ll play you a song sample in that key (thanks to Tim for letting me use his pie chart!)

My City vs. Your City: Lets you compare what artists are being listened to in any two cities. I think it’s ‘differentially listened to’ (like Netflix’s ‘Neighborhood’ feature). This is kind of a cool music exploration tool – what are the outlier artists that I’ve never heard of?

Holodeck: This site elegantly links together your info from SoundCloud, Tumblr, Songkick, and Last.fm. The main use case is for artists – it’s a one-step, one-stop web presence.

One that looks great but isn’t quite ready for prime time:

Songkick on Tour: This hack links together info from two focused social media sites,  Songkick for concerts and Dopplr for travel, to make concert recommendations for your upcoming trips. Since I travel a decent amount and always check to see if there are cool shows, I would love to see this app go live (you can see a video of the demo here). And now I want to start using both Songkick and Dopplr more.

And one that I really, really want to play with but I can’t because Spotify isn’t here in the US yet (but if you’re reading this from the UK or other Spotify-friendly countries, enjoy):

TuneMyFeed: Takes any RSS feed (a Twitter stream, frex) or uses Facebook Connect to log into your FB account, pulls out keywords, and creates a list of related songs in Spotify. Want.

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