When I first heard about Qleek I was a little skeptical. You see, it’s a music player that uses physical, wooden blocks called Tapps to activate digital playback. You want to listen to some Jazz? Find the Coltrane block and stick it into the player. Want to listen to OK Computer? Dig out the block and slot it to make yourself a little fitter and happier. It’s like the old days of physical media but it’s completely digital.
To use the pucks you simply assign each unique NFC code to a separate album, playlist, or artist. You can decorate them however you want or even have them pre-printed with your favorites. One playback device and 5 Tapps costs $249 on Indiegogo.
Now if you are like me, your initial reaction is incredulity. Why do we need this? But just imagine: say you’re at a party and you put out a bunch of Tapps with pre-made playlists. People can pick them up, fiddle with them, comment on your song selection. Or you can create a wall of Tapps and enjoy the very physical experience of “putting something on” the stereo. It’s almost comforting in a way and quite a fascinating solution to the digital/physical divide.
It’s also very high-concept and nicely designed so I could see it in a hotel room or lounge where visitors can control the music with a wooden disk rather than bugging the DJ.
I met one of the creators, Pierre-Rudolf Gerlach, in Warsaw this year and he showed me the device and this Tapps. He’s aiming for $70,000 and he’s already got $20,000 so I suspect this will get funded.
“We wanted to make Qleek a ‘new medium for new medias,’ by giving a way to people to re-materialize the online content they love most,” he said and I agree. While at first glance it seems a little silly, I really think Qleek is onto something.