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Unbound Spiral: iPod Radio and Skype

January 25, 2005 06:42 PM

This post provides a "how to" on creating a personal iPod Radio that you can use in your Skype calls or simply leave running for your friends to call. The implications are disruptive, and the "ease of use" likely to further Skype's adoption when solutions are available for effectively using Skype as a broadcast service. It's perfect for low volume delivery of recorded messages off websites. Perhaps another zone for convergence between music, media and voice?

(UPDATE: 02/01/05 I've taken iPodRadio offline. It's been a fun experiment and hundreds of people have participated. In the last week they have had more use of my iPod than I have. Thus I'm taking it back. If you want more info please contact me. Thanks)

iPod Radio came out of a desire to play music in a Skype call. Something I've wanted to make work for a long time. While I've tried before it was the iPod that made it relatively simple. So now I can add background music to a Skype call. I felt it would shift perceptions and the ebb and flow of what one shares in a call. So far I've learned that music closes the distance gap even more. With Skype it was already like being in the same room. Now I can concurrently listen to the same music. It's best when Skype is running the ISAC codec. The result is the music helps to synch the two spaces making it easier to drift in and out of conversation. However, the real learning is the implications go way beyond everyone being able to listen to the same music and hold a concurrent conversation. Music over VoIP wasn't supposed to be a big deal. No one talked of PodCasts over VoIP or using VoIP as the communications mechanism. We should. Skype + iPod Radio may provide another option for the PodCast world.

This Skype experiment confirms a number of possibilities.:

  • Add background music (radio) to your Skype calls, personalizing the experience.
  • Run a second Skype line so your friends can hear what's playing on your iPod, even when you aren't home.
  • Broadcast podcast audio using Skype saving bandwidth, and eliminating buffering and streaming issues.
  • Demonstrate infomercials. Examples: snow report, customer update, daily briefing, etc. Access direct from website via callto: tags.
  • Note when we automate the recording selection from a website you will listen to Skype playback your request. This will be HUGE!
  • What are the implications for Streaming Media models? Why wait for the buffering? What is tomorrow's transit mechanism?

    From a Podcast perspective distributing podcasts via SkypeCalls provides the the opportunity for the Podcaster to know who's listening and even whether they listened to the whole thing. Statistics are a big deal! Further automation could enable one to listen and then via a text message to request a full file download. Bye Bye bandwidth problems and hello Podcast communications transport mechanism. No ports to open, no special FTP. Sounds perfect for when you get 30 people listening for a podcast if you are lucky!

    Document pdf Creating an iPod Radio on Skype

    Click the picture above or this link iPod Radio on Skype to connect with iPod radio. I've set it up so if it is busy you will get a short Skype VM message. and you will have to try again. It's just playing tunes off my iPod and I have no idea what it may be playing when you ring. I will try and leave it on. It's running on my laptop which isn't going anywhere in the next couple of days. Clearly this is very narrowcast radio, not quite what the Pirates thought. Still I bet there are some uses that the above could be put to that we've not even begun to consider.

    Other links that may be of interest:
    SkypeCasting: How to Record Skype Conversations
    Telephony and Music
    Jeff Pulver on Ringtones: This could be extended.
    VoIP Predictions for 2005. Music and VoIP don't seem to be in the picture. Perhaps it should be!
    iPod Pirate Radio

    iPod Radio on Wi-Fi?
    The Pirate Radio Station
    iPod-FM 95.9 Great Picture... now what is the SkypeRadio tag?
    Engadget's take on Pirate Radio
    Why VoIP is music to Kazaa's ear

    Is radio really the right metaphor for this? Perhaps not, although you could plug a radio station in just as easily as I plugged in the ipod. However it does make it easy to broadcast audio content and even extend it to a multiparty conference. Then it may create a new Skype option for "Music" on hold.

    So ultimately! How disruptive could this be? Think this way and there are some new opportunities. Engineer out a few little things and use a proper recorder and it becomes very interesting. I hope the sound quality holds up. It has been very good.