This research prototype seeks to understand how we can make digital music gifting tangible, precious and meaningful again, especially between couples in a relationship in a time of plentiful music.
By designing a pendant that is worn close to one's chest, we hope that this might convey a sense of intimacy, allowing music from a significant other to 'emanate the heart'. We designed the pendant so that it can only accommodate one track at a time. Through this limitation, we hope to imbue the act of music gifting with a sense of preciousness. To add a personal touch, the sender/gifter can use the system to record a personal audio message which can be 'joined' to the track. This is inspired by and is reminiscent of how people create and give others mixed tapes. Finally, the pendant does not have a 'start' button. To start listening to the track, the listener must first 'warm up' the pendant using his/her hands. Once warmed, the track will begin to play, and the listener must continue to hold on to the pendant to ensure that the pendant continues to play the music track. Otherwise, the track will fade away quietly.
Besides the pendant, we have also designed a 'jewelry box'* where the pendant can be stored safely (adding to sense of preciousness). Far from just being a container, the box can be connected, via a USB lead to any hard drive or computer, allowing the gifter to choose music to send to another person. The interaction is facilitated and visualised through a screen under the lid of the box. The box is also built with a microphone. This allows the gifter to record a short audio message which will be then automatically 'joined' to the track being gifted. Because the box has wi-fi connectivity, the sender can use the box to send this personalised track to his/her lover. At the same time, this system will also send a simple SMS to the recipient. This notification system hopes to heighten the experience of anticipation and mystery of unwrapping a present because the recipient will only be able to download the gift once he/she is at home, by plugging the pendant inside the jewelry box.
*Pictures of the 'box' will follow when the prototype is completed. The pictures above shows the first working prototype of the pendant. Work is continuing to refine the form factor of the pendant.