March 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Internet of Things: Musaic’s Speakers Control Moodlighting, Help Water Plants

musaicIt’s 2014. Many of us already have connected speakers that we can control with apps, using a variety of wireless protocols, with Apple AirPlay and Sonos being particular crowd favorites, and many other promising wireless solutions on the horizon.

Music has led the way through many major technological developments, from the iPod music player begetting the iPhone and with it the entire modern smartphone industry, to the adoption of the CD-ROM, broadband internet adoption, Apple, and more.

We formerly covered these speakers, which are themselves lightbulbs — a neat party trick, but what would make more sense is to integrate connected, better-sounding speakers and the apps we’re increasingly using to listen to music with the rest of the connected home. The Internet of Things means the lightbulb doesn’t have to be the speaker in order for the two to talk to each other.

The Internet Engineering Task Force added a whole new batch of IPv6 addresses in part because the time is fast approaching when each lightbulb, power outlet, speaker, appliance, and screen in the home might want its own little corner of the internet.

Musaic, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, is a speaker that “can already control dimmers, bulbs and switches from leading lighting brand LightwaveRF,” and is seeking other partners “to allow Musaic to interact with lighting, security and more “through the AllSeen Alliance, which hopes to establish an open-source standard called AllJoyn to help connected devices pass information to each other in the home. Musaic speaker(s) can already “create and control lighting moods and integrate with other home automation technologies.”

Like other connected speakers, Musaic (starting at $266) can be upgraded from the server side with new features, so as more connected devices follow music’s lead into the home, it could be capable of all kinds of lightshows, mood lighting scenarios, light shows, interactive music information and visualizations on anything in the house with a screen, and possibly control by other devices as well.

“We will feature Allplay as an audio device and control of Lighting via Alljoyn plus the ability to send Now Playing data [as mentioned here]  to displays such as Alljoyn TVs, etc.,” explained Musaic CEO Matthew Bramble to Evolver.fm in an email interview. “Actually our units are totally upgradable ‘over the air’ via the internet so we expect the feature set to grow substantially with time.”

This yet-to-be-Kickstarted speaker will stream music via WiFi from Aupeo, Grooveshark, iHeartRadio, Napster, Rhapsody, Soma.fm, and TuneIn via AllPlay, and Spotify via Spotify Connect, he said, with other services to come. In addition to WiFi, Musaic also works via Bluetooth and a rechargeable battery, for portable scenarios. We asked Bramble about Musaic’s near- and long-term plans are for integrating its speakers with other stuff in the home:

“Close in, it’s the integration with lighting and security,” he said. “Further out is more cloud-based ideas like having Musaic pass you text-to-speech messages [sort of like this] or playing content that is tuned to a particular person at a particular time, i.e. Musaic knowing it’s dad who’s in the shower and that it’s morning and thus playing the kind of ‘wake up’ tunes dad likes.”

“The Musaic system isn’t just a great sounding audio system it’s been cleverly designed to be a sophisticated playback and control device on the Internet of Things,” added WigWag LLC CEO Ed Hemphill in a statement. “We’re working with the Musaic guys so that in the future you will be able to set up rules to do things like mute the audio when movement is detected, play a sound when you gain a new Twitter follower, or have your plants tell them you they are thirsty via text to speech.”

As of early Friday afternoon ET, Musaic has raised $29,271 of the $99,600 it says it needs to go into production, with 23 days left in its Kickstarter campaign.