Friday, March 26, 2010

Cellphones Party

A cellphone is actually a computer with a microphone and an amplifier.
We used to think that its speakers are quite lousy, and rightfully so, because they've got no sound box which is a crucial part in creating a good natural sound. Nonetheless our judgment is based mostly on phone calls' quality which is pretty bad because of the GSM encoding the voice go through when going over the cellular network.
Current phone technology though, with smart phones such as the iPhone, the N95 and Android based phones got better sound quality than ever before. These phones became quite popular recently, striking me with the idea of putting a bunch of those phones together to play music. The quantity of phones might just prove enough to compensate for the quality.

My idea is to write an application for smart phones, to find all the phones running the application that are located in the same room (or preselected phones). The application will synchronize the phones by locating the distance and direction from each other, and then play some music as best as possible. Finding the direction and distance might be as easy as playing a short tone, and waiting for a reply from the other phones over Bluetooth or similar means. By measuring the reply time of about three or four phones, it's possible to calculate the direction and distance.

Although the phones won't produce the best music quality, it could be fun to play with. For instance:
1. Playing perfect surround sound, which means making sound as if it is coming from different parts of the room, even from places with no phones.
2. Creating Active Noise Control, or an interference sound wave. This can create better sound, cancel out noises or even create a sound that only a certain person or a group of people in the room could hear. As far as I understand, it is a bit out the plausible range of the speakers and the computational power of the CPU, but I would love to hear more of the subject from anyone whose got a better understanding.
3. Creating a sonar, to create a 3d map of the room and the objects it contains. Again, my lack of understanding forbids me from knowing the plausibility of the challenge.

On a different but related subject, I like the idea that everyone in a party would have the ability to vote for the next song on the play list. It is already common to find in restaurants songs menu which you can choose song from by sending SMS, but still putting it as an extra interaction of the parties with the DJ has some added value to the concept. Allowing people to watch the play list of the party, voting for songs, and sending insulting messages to all the people who vote for U2 songs is a must for every successful party.

I forgot to thanks Werner for helping me on the last post. Big thanks goes to Omer for this one, check out his new awesome fun web-game @