Tapping to Music


Next up at CES and in your smart house: blast your music with a simple tap. It’s an elegant little dial on the wall, kind of like the Nest thermostat we reviewed a while back. It’s linked with almost anything you want it to be, such as your Spotify and Apple accounts, and they call it the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Essence.

You might be thinking “All that is great, but what’s the big deal?” Well, the big deal is this little circle doodad links via low-energy RF to the central control box which in turn links to your music source using a wi-fi connection. The whole setup is attached to speakers via proprietary Bang & Olufsen RJ-45 jacks (limiting you to only Bang & Olufsen speakers, but if you’re already dropping the $995 for the Essence, you’ll probably have the liquid assets to back that up).

The Essence uses your phone as a source, but the objective is to have you pull out your phone less and less, turning on the music the same way you’d turn on a light.

What Sparks Our Fire: Another smart elegant, kind of prohibitively expensive product from CES, but it’s a sign of where technology is headed.

Do you think listening to music needs this kind of upgrade?

Touching The World Around You

A few weeks ago, we talked about Disney’s new touchscreen technology, which would allow a user to feel the objects onscreen via an electric current that fools the fingers into feeling bumps and textures. Now, Disney has made another leap in haptic interfaces, creating a system that would allow the user to feel the interface in midair.

Similar to an Xbox Kinect, this is a three dimensional interface that allows you to touch simulated objects in midair. Called “Aireal”, the developers state that the device provides “interactive tactile experiences in free air,” basically blowing concentrated ring of air in the direction of the user, basically using sound waves to create the sensation of haptic interaction.

This is an entirely new way of conceiving touch-based technology. Most interfaces use actual surface to hand or surface to body technology to utilize haptics. Midair interaction is a completely untested form of interface, and it will be fascinating to see what uses this technology could have in the future.

What Sparks Our Fire: New technologies are leading us closer and closer to a fully 3-D interactive experience.

Do you see the Aireal becoming an integrated part of systems in the future?