November 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

‘Music: The Gathering’ Detects Smartphones for Real World Social Playlists

music the gathering

Imagine if your personal theme song played every time you walked into a room. It would be sort of like being in an opera or ballet (in which characters often have themes or motifs associated with them), but in real life.

With an intriguing app called Music: The Gathering, which Adam Ribaudo and his team built at Music Hack Day Boston, it could happen to you. Granted, there’s no way for you to use it (yet?) but I witnessed the hack in action during his demonstration and saw how it can play music from someone’s collection — or, potentially, their most-played song — whenever they show up somewhere.

Music: The Gathering, whose name borrows from the similarly-named card game, involves a computer, a router, and a smartphone, on the hardware side. When the router detects the presence of your smartphone, the app updates an Rdio playlist with music from your phone’s library. Once you link your phone’s MAC address to your Rdio username, you never have to do it again. The app will recognize you automatically, assuming your phone’s WiFi connection is turned on, and start playing your tunes when you show up, with amusing implications.

Say you throw a party, run a bar, or manage a restaurant. If you install Music: The Gathering, everyone at that location, after jumping through the initial hoops, would have their music added to the playlist. The ever-evolving playlist can grab music from more than one user, weighting each one’s influence equally. The sound system could then play a selection of music representing the tastes of everyone attending, without being manually programmed. If someone leaves, they would take their music with them.

This might sound like a stretch, but it worked just fine during the live demonstration this past weekend: As the team presented their hack, anyone who connected to the router began to populate the screen with their music.

As mentioned above, there’s no public version for you to play around with at this point. But considering that this hack won multiple prizes at Music Hack Day Boston, perhaps Ribaudo and company will consider making a consumer-ready version.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/David Domingo)