SHARED LISTENING EXPERIENCES
While working at Handmade, I participated in an internal Hackathon event. My team was asked to create concepts around mobility, and were given a week to produce initial designs. As a tangible music buff (vinyl collector) and one who likes to promote social gatherings, I wanted to blend these two subjects into a pair of headphones.
When I’m on public transport, I often see everyone looking down at their screens. No one looks up, or engages in the world around them. So in my little design journal, I sketched out an idea of “shared listening experiences.”
The idea is that a person can open up what they are listening to for those nearby. It’s like being a radio DJ on a very small level. Someone else can then physically turn in your direction and listen to what you’re “casting.” This simple physical interaction gets people out of their screen to engage with someone around them.
Besides creating the original concept, my role also included visual design of the system, and motion graphics for the interface and prototype.
Soundspheres – Social Headphones
Principal Product Designer
Product & Concept Design, Art Direction, UX, Motion Design, UI, Prototyping
After the Hackathon was over (and we won the competition), the project expanded. We looked beyond the original hardware / software approach to see what it could be as a platform. What if not only the music you played was captured in your own private history, but also the location you played a song?
And what if public spaces had a local playlists attached to them, by the people who visited? People could add their own music to a park, a cafe, and more. The idea isn’t limited to music. Podcasts and audio tours could also be attached to a location, serving up content for all who visit.
To prove if our concept would work, we made a working prototype. In our prototype, the user stood between three screens, which showed three people “casting” their music. Our prototype headphones had a smart phone connected which handled the interactions. A long-press would “lock” onto a person’s channel. A double-tap would send a “like” or what we called a “boost” to that DJ, triggering a response.