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Connected Devices and Music

Music pulsates around the hot, dense atmosphere of the club. The crowd is packed up to the stage moving and shaking to the beat as the band drives the frenzy with each measure. The singer steps to the mic for that final chorus and the crowd responds in full throat to every word. With a final stanza the band leaves the stage to huge applause. The stage lights go down and the house lights go up, revealing a sweaty, joyous crowd ready to continue the party into the evening.

Crowd at a concert

Hopefully you have all experienced that scene and that feeling before. I know I have countless times. As a music lover, musician and audio engineer I’ve been on various ends of that spectrum before and there is no substitute for a great musical performance when everyone - band and crowd hit the same emotional plane at the same moment. It’s what music is all about really.

Now as a technologist I’m also fascinated with what goes into creating all of that - the music, the scene, the sound, the feeling, and I can’t help but think about how the quickly changing world of technology, and the growing internet of everything movement will impact this experience in the not too distant future. Let’s take a closer look.

Fast forward to a world where a majority of the crowd is wearing a device that can monitor vital aspects of their health such as heartbeat, body movement and even brain waves! Given the nature of the data the audience would have given permission when they entered the club to share a subset of that data - anonymously - to a beacon or central data port via a simple, easy to use interface. The band can now not only look out at the movement of the crowd but can gauge its bio-rhythmic intensity at a specific moment in time. This allows them to adjust the pacing of the set and intensity of their performance to create the optimal flow and emotional experience for the crowd.

Crowd at a concert

But it’s not just a one way exchange of data. The sound emanating from the speakers is activating a sensor in a wearable device that triggers various sensations for the wearer - a slow vibration that matches the tempo or a quick and pulsing feeling that undulates to the music and frequencies being pumped out of the crowd from the PA. The floor itself is also a giant sensor, reacting to the movement of the crowd and sending data back to the band and light and sound crew. This data drives changes in the lighting and signals the band to push harder, louder, faster. The exchange of data - band to crowd to band - heightens the intensity of the emotional connection and overall experience. What we all live for in these situations!

There are nearly limitless possibilities in this scenario. Perhaps the fan participation levels create or unlock new experiences with the band - merchandise, meet and greet, access to content. Likewise the artists - band or DJ - can use this type of input from the audience to better tailor their music, composition, style and pacing to best serve the experience.

This is just one scenario of how the growing internet of everything could effect a scenario that has been in play among humans for many, even thousands of years. The future of the internet of everything is exciting yet treacherous at the same time. It’s fun to think about how this new set of interactions will impact familiar experiences, with the caveat that we need open and honest discourse about the best way to implement while respecting security, privacy and user experience.

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