This idea came to us because we're tired of the constant feeling of being "on" that the internet creates, but still love the widespread functionality it provides. Vintage is cool, and radios are vintage. Ergo, radios are cool.
What it does
tuneOut is a Spotify-connected, old-school radio. You can tune between playlists Spotify has curated for you, like Discover Weekly and Release Radar. The music Spotify has guaranteed you'll like is just a twist away, and accessible when you're not
How we built it
The code is based around Spotify's API and uses node.js to communicate with the computer's serial port. The radio uses a set of dials and LEDs in a DIY setup. One dial controls the playlist selection, and the other controls the volume in Spotify. The LEDs provide status — volume and playlist selection.
Challenges we ran into
Our original idea, using the user's location to play contextually appropriate information — Bon Iver in the forest, for instance — couldn't work because Spotify's web SDK doesn't work with mobile browsers.
Once we coalesced around a new idea, we had some browser communication trouble. In the end, we found a solution that worked but it took a lot of minds and effort to get it done.
Our original casing idea — a 3D print of the outer box — printed slower than estimated and had to be scrapped. Hence, "DIY."
Accomplishments that we're proud of
As a team, I think we're pretty happy we pulled together and actually got the radio to work. Specifically, connecting hardware to the cloud and making use of APIs successfully. Making the internet physically accessible is fun.
What we learned
What's next for tuneOut
For starters, we'd like to incorporate part of our original idea, to make one part of the dial a "location"-contextual switch that plays different music based on whether you're home or not.
Another big part of the future project is portability. Whether the dial is part of the phone case or a standalone "radio" connected to Spotify — this would make it usable more easily by the regular user. We want to implement it as an embedded solution at some point.
More controls! We'd love to incorporate an "add to playlist" button where you can quickly and easily press to save this to a playlist. So as you're listening to music, you can add without switching over to Spotify.