A new Apple patent appears to want to capitalize on a somewhat off-beat trend to promote a new kind of music sharing dubbed “The silent disco”. It is a recent trend that sees people using headphones to come together and enjoy a concert quietly while in a shared physical space. The patent, published by the USPTO and spotted by AppleInsider, describes a method for a group of users to share tunes and groove along together silently and even remotely, at the quirk of a distant DJ.
This has to be one of the more bizarre patents Apple has applied for and seems to be quite a bit outside their comfort zone in terms of something we will actually see in a shipped product. However, on the other hand, it is a way to drive music sales and downloads, which has seen Apple try some of its more unusual product launches including Ping, iTunes Match and the upcoming iTunes Radio. The so-called “coordinated music experience” described in Apple’s patent would use Bluetooth, cellular, ad hoc or Wi-Fi networking to connect multiple individuals with one person acting as the DJ.
Others in the listening party could hear the same song as the DJ, or in cases where not everyone has access to the same tracks, they could hear tracks taken from their own library or they could hear tracks matched up based on tempo, genre or other factors of similarity. Other features include sharing of avatars and other user information for a social network type of experience. A display of the beats-per-minute currently being used by tracks in the group, and rotating DJs among group members are some of the features. As I have said, this is a patent that is not likely to make its way to shipping products anytime in the imminent future. But it is a good example of Apple’s thinking around iTunes and digital media as a whole; the emphasis is being put on ideas and inventions that help to promote musical discovery, which in turn helps to promote music itself. In the case of Apple with sales via the iTunes Store.