Apparently, students in Sweden do really cool degree projects. Catalan-born Jordi Parra is not yet 30 years old and is now employed in Chicago as an Interaction Designer at IDEO. His final project at Sweden's Umeå Institute of Design was a device to listen to Spotify at home, and it recently won a prize in the Disruptive category of the IxDA Awards 2012.

We at MakeTank love this project. It is a beautiful fusion of an extant online product (Spotify) and the real world, of attractive and simple design with simple yet evolved functionality, using materials we love like Arduino, RFID and LED lighting. It is an excellent example of interaction design applied to the internet of things in a seamless and natural way.

Spotify Box

Spotify Box

Here is the designer's description of the product:

The box comes with different color coded RFID tags that can be linked to point to certain music on Spotify. Once it is setup, place a tag on the device and it will play that playlist or search, remove it and it will stop. The two small buttons are used to skip to the previous and next track and the big wheel where the tags are placed rotates to control the volume.

The setup and the process of linking music to the tags is done on the computer. The device has no display, it will only certain information on a LED matrix hidden behind the pattern of the speaker when needed (low battery, not recognized tag, connection problems…).

The current setup uses an Arduino Pro Mini that controls Spotify on the computer via Processing and Applescript. It is a prototype and it does require a computer. The goal is now port the current prototype to an ARM processor and get rid of the computer so it becomes a completely standalone device.

Since this description was posted with the video in March, 2011, Parra met up with engineers from Spotify and they are working together to produce a commercialized version of this prototype. Changes to the original industrial design and some of the components will be necessary. Again, we are interested in this aspect of the project for the example it sets for Makers about collaboration, refinement, and commercial production. Not all Makers will have this kind of vision, though here at MakeTank we are available to help in just this kind of process, so that more beautifully simple objects like the Spotify box can become parts of our daily lives.

You can read the whole worklog at:


Leave a reply