Skube – Last.fm + Spotify Radio

Rethinking home audio and understanding how and where people share music was the jumping point for creating Skube. 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 nor easy, especially when we all have such different taste in music.

The result of our exploration is Skube, a music player that allows you to discover and share music and facilitates the decision process of picking tracks when in a communal setting.

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 that still fits your taste. When Skubes are connected together, they act as one player that shuffles between all the playlists. You can control the system as a whole using any Skube.

Form 

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 shape informs the user to 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 ArduinoMax/MSP and an XBee wireless network. We access the Last.fm API to populate the Skube with tracks and scrobble, and using their algorithms to find similar music when in Discover mode. Then using Applescript, we get Spotify to play the music. We use XBees for the wireless communication between the Skubes and to the computer using custom software that manages all this.

You can see the inner workings of the Skube in this litte video:

Credit

This project was made by Andrew Nip, Ruben van der Vleuten, Malthe Borch, and Andrew Spitz (me). It was part of the Tangible User Interface module at CIID ran by Vinay Venkatraman, David Cuartielles, Richard Shed, and Tomek Ness.

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