A group of students at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID)have designed a really cool little gadget that could send some waves through the music industry. They have created a new speaker/jukebox called the Skube, aiming to make listening to music a more physical and social experience.
Essentially the Skube is a a kind of jukebox, using Spotify to play music from sideloaded Last.fm playlists. In standard mode it cycles through users’ playlists, however when you flip the Skube over it automatically switches to Discover mode, using Last.fm’s API to find similar music. Turning the device on its front pauses the music, while a quick double-tap tells it to skip the current track. However where the Skube really starts showing off is when two or more are put together.
A magnet detects when two units are in close proximity, causing them to sync their output — the result is a multi-device loudspeaker. In this set-up, one Skube can be used to control the rest, and users are able to add tracks to their Last.fm profiles by pressing a “<3″ button on the rear of their device. Awesome.
At the heart of each Skube is the Arduino prototyping platform, a simple, single-board computer beloved of hobbyists and hardware hackers. This central component connects to an XBee wireless adapter, which in turn communicates with a central server powered by the media-focused programming environment Max/MSP.
The Skube is still a concept at this stage and the students are considering their options to get the product manufactured. They are debating using Kickstarter but are weighing up all the pros and cons. Either way I am pretty sure that this one will make it out into the big bad world in some form or another. Watch this space.