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Now this is a good idea…..

Trying to amplify the music on your phone with plastic cups often isn’t the best way to get a party started.
But instead of investing in an expensive sound system, a new app could help create a giant speaker for free.
The app works by synchronising streaming music across smartphones and tablets to create ‘3D sound’.

Named AmpMe, it also allows iOS and Android devices to play the same music together across both platforms.

It’s not the tech itself, but the idea. Very jealous of whoever thought that one up.

Just the thing for setting up a flash mob, don’t you think?

Hmm, actually, shouldn’t be too difficult to clone that and such flash mobs would be the marketing method, don’t you think?

16 thoughts on “Now this is a good idea…..”

  1. I think they need to add more music services before it can become popular.

    And surely for a party, one proper speaker is better than tens of tinny phone speakers anyway? I guess you can plug several phones into multiple proper speakers using this and aux/bluetooth though which is pretty cool.

  2. Probably not such a good idea. Thirty years ago I tried connecting up lots of PCs (which only had a one tone beeper at the time) to see if I could get some reasonable synchronization and get them to play in harmony. Not a great success and good luck to anyone who wants to try, but my guess is that with many different brands of phone the synchronisation will be out by just enough to cause mild nausea.

  3. I suppose if you like to party to the sound of cicadas it might be quite nice.

    You can get a bluetooth amplified speaker quite cheaply or a bluetooth receiver for a stadium sound system or anything in between.

  4. Well obviously without good synchronisation it won’t work. Which is why it will have good synchronisation. I can think of several ways to implement this off the top of my head. The most basic would be to form a mesh network, pick one of the nodes to be the master reference time source and periodically push resync messages to the other nodes in the network. If they’re all playing the same file then you probably wouldn’t even need to do this more than once per song (a 1ppm timing error is 300μs over the course of a 5 minute song, which is only 13 CDDA frames at 44100 Hz). There are very good and stable oscillators and timers in phones.

    Alex, thirty years ago a GFLOPS of computing power cost about $40 million. The GPU in an iPhone 6s runs about 75 GFLOPS (and the CPU itself at about 6 GFLOPS). The CPU on my $800 computer in the office runs at about 60 GFLOPS with all cores maxed out and the GPU in the cheapo video card is rated at 300 GFLOPS. Most people never even get their computers to break a sweat these days unless they’re playing high-end games like Far Cry 4 or The Witcher III. A recent smartphone is substantially more powerful than a Cray Y-MP from 1987.

  5. The sonos multi room systems are based on mesh networking so it’s not like it’s a problem that hasn’t already been solved.
    And I agree a set of powered speakers aren’t that expensive and a much better solution and Bluetooth speakers are getting better and cheaper.

  6. Sync is an issue. However all smartphones these days have a GPS receiver which, in principle, can generate sync info down into the nanosec region. Not sure if that capability is available to the phone software though.

  7. BiCR: The latency in the sound generator of a modern high quality synth is still measured in milliseconds. If you think that you can get all the DSPs in 20 different models of smartphone on different operating system to operate simultaneously so that a cymbal crash doesn’t sound like phasers set to stun, then good luck! I look forward to hearing the results.

  8. They’re not synthesising anything. They’re playing digital media files. Stream of data → decoder (software) → DAC → amp → speakers.

  9. Same thing. Generating tones from digital information. The difference is that the synth is generally dedicated hardware where low latency is an important issue for correct performance. The mobile phone is a software platform where synchronisation between devices isn’t considered in the design and the synchronisation is hampered by operating system overhead, background tasks and a whole lot of junk over which you have little control.


    “Of course, a good catalog is useless if the sound is bad. And while AmpMe definitely gives you more sound, it’s not necessarily better sound. Archambault gave me a demo in our office, using a few iPhones, an iPad, a Samsung Galaxy S6, and a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. (AmpMe will also work with Bluetooth speakers that have a microphone.) When it worked, it sounded okay — good enough that, in the right setting, I could see it being useful, but definitely not great. Even when the sound was synced perfectly, it was still easy to tell that I was listening to a bunch of phone and tablet speakers. After all, syncing them together doesn’t magically unlock the ability to produce the low- or mid-range sounds that you lose when you’re blasting sound through speakers that small.
    But for a chunk of the demo, the sound wasn’t synced perfectly, and this is probably AmpMe’s biggest challenge. Even if just one device is the tiniest bit off, you notice it. And considering that you’re theoretically relying on everyone’s phone to keep streaming a playlist of music, that could be a problem. (Just think of how easy it is to drop a call or find yourself with a weak Wi-Fi signal indoors.) And while there is a button in the app that lets you (quickly) re-sync the music, needing to do that with any frequency would be a chore. What good is party music if you have to spend the life of the party keeping the music going?

  11. Wow folks, you have really missed the significance of this one.

    Playing the music will be fun and all, but the killer application of this is street protest.

    For now, this sounds like a cute party trick.

    Soon until it is used to blare “Rock and Roll Part 2” or “We Are the Champions” at sporting events.

    But where this will really be useful is if a protest movement can figure out a way to put a catchy slogan — like “Hell No, We Won’t Go” — to incite the mob out in the ether. Places like Hong Kong could use this right now.

    A few years past that we’ll have the same videos sent to everyone’s phone. It will be interesting to see what happens when the people at the front of the crowd can broadcast to the people at the back of the crowd what the riot police are doing.

    Of course, the flipside is that the Putin’s of the world will be syncing video too: say, broadcasting to all Russians simultaneously faux atrocities blamed on the Chechens.

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