Personal music on the go: changing the rules of the game

The Divvy headset carries all the music you might fancy with no network connections needed on the go. Credit: Aivvy

I stumbled onto the Kickstarter project Aivvy (I have subscribed to Kickstarter notification for new projects in my area of interest and I get quite a few of them every day!).

It is an interesting product, but its interest to me lies more in the game changing rules it brings about, following the interplay of several mature technologies, than in the product itself. But let's start with the product.

Aivvy is asking for 125,000$ funding and with 10 days left it has already got 170,000$. It is asking for this money to develop a set of headphones with 32 GB of memory (you can get this kind of capacity for less than 20$ in an SD card in 2015) and it is providing a way to synchronise with some 40 million songs in their cloud as you recharge the headset during the night using a wifi connection. The headset provides very high quality reproduction but with 32GB it can only contain 3,000 songs   (that is 6 days of no-stop music). Hence the question is what 3,000 songs should be chosen out of the 40 millions available?

Here comes the other piece from Aivvy. Using data about your usage of the headset in a few days it is able to profile your taste and as time goes by, and the more you use the headset, the better the profile and hence the selection of the songs. Their promise is to entertain you with what you like best, of course spicing it here and there with some unexpected sample of music to test ... your taste.

The fact that the pledge has been oversubscribed well before the end of the Kickstarter campaign is an indication that there is an interest for this kind of service.

Clearly, one might say that this is nothing more than just a spiced up iPod, but the idea of having a stand alone headset coupled with a smart music selection that basically merges on the iPod services like Spotify is indeed a step ahead.

The interesting part, to me, is to see the innovation aspect: they are using a mix of well established technologies:

- high capacity storage -relatively speaking- at low cost. Notice that one could have included a 64GB storage, and even larger ones, but given that 32GB provide ample space for more music that you can possibly listen to between recharge why take an additional cost? (this is innovator thinking, a researcher would have super charged the storage capacity...);

- the use of WiFi (rather than a costly cellular connection). WiFi is enough considering that in most cases you will end up recharging your headset back home where you have free wifi access. This is also cutting down on battery requirements since you won't use your battery for the wifi, the headsets will be connected to the main. Again, minimalist features loved by innovators but not by researchers;

- the use of a Cloud as a platform to deliver songs that is made appealing by the way it can choose the songs to download (by developing a profile of your taste and customising the search to your profile). By managing the songs via the Cloud they can also set up a biz model where you have a temporary use of the song that is monitored by them (this also helps in profiling - they know if you have listened to a song more than once and even when and where you listened to it) and this can provide a better and fairer revenue sharing with the content provider, again innovators thinking.

The availability of storage at the edges is killing the streaming, not all of it (for now) but surely part of it. And this will be another game changer. Stay tuned.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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