Jordi Parra, a Spanish design student, has taken digital music and turned it back into a physical product, creating a beautiful Spotify player from wood and plastic.
“I’m interested in the way music industry is evolving,” Parra told Wired.co.uk, “and I really miss not being able to physically share music the way we used to a few years ago.” So he put together a player that plays tracks on Spotify chosen by tokens containing RFID tags. Each token represents a particular album or playlist, and placing it on the player immediately begins playback.
Parra explains: “Each RFID tag has a unique ID [and] there’s no music in the tag itself. The prototype checks what music the current tag is pointing to on a database and starts playing it.”
The aesthetics are firmly analogue, however. “I have an old radio in my kitchen and love the fact that I can just press one button and it starts playing music. With my iPhone, I’ve to unlock it, launch the app, choose something… I hate it,” said Parra. “So I thought a very basic device like this could be cheap, simple and useful for that context: to have it in the kitchen, while reading a book in your bedroom… there are other solutions out there, the Sonos player, the Squeezebox, but they’re expensive. I really think something more simple like this project could be way cheaper and more accessible.”
The player, for now, is just a prototype. It contains an Arduino, which reads the tags and then hooks up to a computer via USB or Bluetooth to tell it what to play. A finished version, Parra says, could contain a speaker and an embedded Linux device running libspotify — the core of Spotify’s software.
“Preparing a mixtape for your girlfriend, giving music to somebody as a birthday present… instead now we have gift cards that feel cheap and emotionless. We’re losing analog devices that are beautiful and everything is turning into an iPad/iPhone app or another gadget with its own screen and UI.”
The Spotify player is Parra’s final thesis for his MA in Interaction Design at theUmea Institute of Design. He’s planning to move to Chicago to start working atIDEO, but says he’d like to keep the project alive if possible. Check out all the angles of the player in the gallery below, see how it was constructed on Flickr, and read more about the project on Parra’s blog.