Music Tangibility: Interactive Speaker

A record player inspired music listening experience for the digital age.


We lost something in the transition from analog to digital.

We all have thousands of digital song files sitting on our hard drive, yet why doesn’t it feel like we own them? A sense of ownership and tangible property was lost in the transition from analog records to digital mp3s. There is something really pleasing about rifling through a box of old records that can’t be recreated by hitting an arrow key to scroll through iTunes. We have given up a more rich and meaningful experience in favor of convenience. We blindly accepted that the future of music is some variation of the mp3. The purpose of the “Music Tangibility” project was to look to the past, specifically to the record playing experience, as an inspiration for the future.

In the past, the entire record playing experience was very physical. You dropped the needle onto a disk and it would start to ride along the grooves etched in vinyl, and the sound would begin to play. As the record continued to spin, the needle slowly shifted towards the center. The needle’s position reflected how far along into the album the record currently was. You could see how far the needle has traveled, and how much more it has left to travel.

The “Music Tangibility” project recreates a sense of a physical and tangible ownership of digital music by establishing a connection between a currently playing song and the song’s physical location within a digital album. A phone, chosen because it naturally contains a more refined selection of our vast music library, is placed into the dock and an album is selected. As the album plays the phone moves right, indicating how much time has elapsed. To fine-tune or change what song is currently playing, move the phone to the left or right to skip backwards or forwards respectively.

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