The silent disco is a recent trend that sees people using headphones to come together and enjoy a concert quietly while in a shared space, and a new Apple patent appears to want to capitalize on this somewhat off-beat trend to promote a new kind of music sharing. The patent, published today by the USPTO and spotted by AppleInsider, describes a method for a group of users to share tunes and groove along together silently and even remotely, at the whim of a distant DJ.
This is definitely one of the more bizarre patents Apple has applied for, and seems quite a bit outside their comfort zone in terms of something we’ll actually see in a shipping product, but on the other hand it’s a way to drive music sales and downloads, which has seen Apple try some of its more unusual product launches including Ping, iTunes Match and the upcoming iTunes Radio. The so-called “coordinated music experience” described in Apple’s patent would use ad hoc, Bluetooth, cellular or Wi-Fi networking to connect multiple people, with one acting as the DJ.
Others in the listening party could hear the same song as the DJ, or could hear tracks matched up based on tempo, genre or other factors of similarity, drawn from their own library in cases where not everyone has access to the same tracks. Other features include sharing of avatars and other user information for a social network type experience, a display of the beats-per-minute currently being used by tracks in the group, and rotating DJs among group members, Turntable.fm style.
Again, this is a pretty out-there patent that isn’t likely to make its way to shipping products anytime in the immediate future. But it’s a good example of Apple’s thought process around iTunes and digital media; the emphasis is on ideas and inventions that help to promote music discovery, which in turn helps to promote music sales via the iTunes Store. This particular invention may have been the product of a time when the ‘Silent Disco’ phenomenon was especially present in the collective consciousness, but that doesn’t mean a shared listening experience won’t someday make its way to Apple devices.