[kickstarter url=http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1330531709/jalapenotm-portable-beat-maker-for-action-sports width=640]Like most people, I depend on fast-paced music to stay motivated during my workouts, which usually consist of running around a park or flailing along to cardio fitness videos. But even adding new tracks to my playlist isn’t enough to keep me from getting bored sometimes. That’s where the Jalapeño Beat Maker comes in. It’s a portable device that you can attach to your workout gear or wear, and it remixes music in real-time based on your movements. You can hear the fruits of your labor through an Android or iOS app. The waterproof Jalapeño Beat Maker was created for snowboarding and other action sports, but its settings can be customized for a wide range of activities.
The Jalapeño Beat Maker was developed by Beat Farm, a startup that creates music-driven products, and its Kickstarter page just launched today. The project has already raised $3,700 in the past few hours, so it has a decent chance of reaching its $53,000 goal by Feb. 7. The device starts at $199 for an early bird package, with an estimated delivery date of October 2014.
Beat Farm was founded by John Hunchar, Ben Harmer and Kenneth Liew, who met while studying at the University of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Product Design graduate program. The Jalapeño Beat Maker combines the team’s love of action sports and music.
Harmer has been playing the drums and skiing since he was 10 years old. Liew studied the piano when he was growing up, then started DJing in college. Hunchar is an avid hockey player and snowboarder who enjoys music despite being afflicted with what he describes as “questionable” musical skills and tastes.
While developing the Jalapeño Beat Maker, the three “went out and conducted research and ethnographic interviews to see what was out there and what people really wanted and needed,” they told me in an email. “Nowadays, you see a lot of people on the mountain [snowboarding] with headphones in, rocking out to their MP3 players or smartphones. Six or seven years ago, that really wasn’t the case. Snowboarding is naturally rhythmic, so it clicked that maybe there’s a way we can use music to accent the awesome moments in your ride and ultimately create a better experience.”
The Beat Farm team came up with the Jalapeño Beat Maker’s concept a year and a half ago. Since then, they have refined its design, engineering and user experience. The name Jalapeño was chosen because it describes the experience they want users to have: an extra layer of fun on an experience that’s already exciting. The pepper’s size and shape also helped guide the design of the prototype.
“We wanted to create something that somewhat resembled a jalapeño, but wasn’t literal–something visually exciting but also functional. It needed to be durable, waterproof, and compact (like the size of a jalapeño),” Liew explains.
The Jalapeño Beat Maker has two modes. The multi-track model lets you select and mix up to four track layers (including drums, guitar, bass or vocals) created by Beat Farm’s “farm-ily” of artists. Tracks are synced so they stay in tune and in rhythm to your movements. The one-track mode, on the other hand, works with the music already on your smartphone, and is currently in early beta stage.
The team describes multiple uses for the Jalapeño Beat Maker besides adding an extra piquancy to snowboarding and skiing sessions. For example, bikers and break dancers can use it, as seen in the gif above. Musicians can perform with the device or use it to modify their tracks. I haven’t gone skiing in a long time, but I think Jalapeño Beat Maker might make following along to fitness videos or jogging a lot more fun and keep me motivated. Tracks made using the Jalapeño Beat Maker can be exported into video editing software. It can even be used to keep hyperactive children entertained.
“Some people have suggested putting it on their kids or their dogs (not that the two are the same) and have them run around,” says Liew. “We want to try it on a lawnmower.”
Ultimately, the team says the want the Jalapeño Beat Maker “to change the way people create and experience music,” regardless of whether or not they are experienced musicians or athletes.
“At the end of the day, it isn’t really about taking things too seriously but about having fun,” says Liew. “If we can motivate people to get out there, to move and create, that’s just the kind of extra spice we like.”