A Metronome-Inspired Interface For Streaming Music Makes Finding New Tunes A Breeze

The good thing about Spotify is the thousands of songs at your fingertips. The near infinite database is also bad thing for some, since discovering new tunes or picking an album can take a lot of time—everything becomes a decision.

Big-name audio brands have experimented with user interfaces to combat the dilemma of endless choice, like Bang & Olufsen’s mind-reading BeoSound Moment. Royal College of Arts graduate Gemma Roper has a proposition, too: a tactile way to cycle through music that takes its cues from radio dials and metronomes called Radio Activity.

Roper first identified the beats of music genres. Reggae sits at a lazy 60 to 75 beats per minute. Climb further up the scale and you have blues at an average of 60 to 90 BPM. Dubstep is at the upper end at 130 to 150 BPM. Roper slipped the controller over a stick that represents the music’s tempo. To change genres, you slide the controller up and down, just like you would to adjust the pace of metronome. An Arduino controller embedded inside the device then translates the information to your computer. To pump up the volume, turn the dial just like you would on a radio or receiver.

Through Radio Activity, Roper offers a downright elegant way for us to get away from our touch screens and back to haptic interfaces—one key element of Zero UI, a new design paradigm.