A wireless Cone learns music preferences
March 6, 2014 by Nancy Owano
(Phys.org) —The San Francisco-based hardware startup Aether Things has started offering a reservations list for its debut product, a music player that will apply machine learning to figure out what you want to hear. The speaker works with Apple iOS and Mac products. Aether said you need a device running iOS 7+ or Mac OSX 10.9+ Mavericks. The machine, called Cone, will learn musical choices as it goes. The Cone will sell for $399 and is targeted to make its appearance in Spring/Summer of this year, according to Aether Things' news release on Tuesday. Aether, whose co-founder is Danish entrepreneur (Skype, Rdio, Joost) Janus Friis, prides itself as a company that makes "thinking things." According to the Aether website, "Play music at the touch of a button. Change genres and moods with the turn of the dial. Or talk to Cone and tell it what song, genre or artist you want to hear."
Just don't call it a mere radio. With a turn of the dial, Cone is a "thinking music player which plays audio from streaming music services, Internet radio stations, and podcasts," according to the startup team. Ben Fullerton, head of design at Aether, said the team was using Aether's machine-learning software across music and content services to learn what Cone listeners would like.
The product weighs 2.9 pounds and has a built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery, good for eight hours of continuous playback. The device is intended to be easily moved from room to room without needing to be near an outlet. Despite all the mobile gadgetry on hand, Aether's founders saw that there was room for opportunity, to make products and experiences work harder so the user did not have to.
Aether co-founder and Chief Product Officer Duncan Lamb told TechCrunch why the founders pushed to make Aether happen as a thinking-things startup. He said the two looked at AI innovations such as IBM's Watson playing Jeopardy yet, when it comes to consumers, "we still have to tell our computers what we want them to do. And a lot of the 'smart' electronics out there today still require a lot of effort to get them to work," he said.
Aether's team, according to the release, includes people with experience at Nokia, Apple , Google, NASA, Frog and Pixar.