The Mico Headphones Want Your Subconcious to be the DJ

How comfortable are you letting technology into your life?

A company called Neurowear is hoping many of you answered “very,” as they get set to roll out a unique pair of headphones designed to read your brainwaves and pick the music that matches your mood.

Using what is called electroencephalography sensors, the “Mico” headphones detect your subconscious and works with its native app to select the track based on your evolving mood and feelings. The headphones even indicate your general outlook through a visual setup built into the sides.

The goal of the Mico is to create what the developers are calling “Music Serendipity,” where you never have to consciously decide on, or physically choose, your music, but can rather sit back and enjoy the perfect playlist, as chosen by your brain.

Debuting to the public at SXSW this year, details on the release timeframe and pricing are scarce. Further questions abound regarding the variety of the music selections, or how your personal music can be integrated, among other functionality queries.

While apps like Moodagent have been performing this same function for years, the idea of it being incorporated into a piece of hardware is somewhat more original. If the user is able to work off a diverse playlist, the pricing and sound quality of the set is right, and the program accomplishes the majority of its promises, then this headset might just be more than an intriguing idea.


Roqbot Promises to be the Jukebox Reborn

In many ways, the jukebox hasn’t been a relevant or practical item for quite a few years now. Even before the advent of the iPod, many establishments that once used them prominently suddenly started preferring TV sets and house music to stand in for the old nickelodeon. Yet even though time has diminished the prominence of the jukebox, it has only added to the machine’s mystique. When imagining any good old time diner or gin joint, the jukebox is sure to spring to mind in its home right in the corner, as some classic tune frames another undisputed image of Americana.

It was only a matter of time, though, before the idea of a musical public centerpiece entered the digital age in full effect, and now it appears that thanks to a smartphone app called Roqbot, that time has come.

The idea is that a restaurant, bar or other type of patron establishment will register themselves as a Roqbot location and install a corresponding system. You can even help your favorite local joint become a member by recommending them on the Facebook campaign, “Jukebox Reborn,” Then, you can use your smartphone to check in to the affiliated location and see what’s playing, help create set lists, recommend the music, and even check out specials and other information about the place, thus allowing customers to truly set the music selection of their favorite hangouts like never before.

It’s an idea that’s time has come, and depending on the participation of venues and users, is one that could become popular fast. But I can’t help but lament that this is a clear sign the days of jukeboxes are truly done. Yes, their selection is very limited, and they’re extremely bulky and prone to break down, but besides the romantic aspect of seeing one, there is the fun of flipping through the sheets and finding that perfect song, or just knowing the number of your favorite by heart.

Also, the limited selection of a jukebox helps to truly define a good bar. I take comfort in knowing a little hole in the wall whose jukebox is loaded with Johnny Cash, The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and Eric Clapton because I know that for the cost of some quarters, I have found a safe haven from club beats and dance music, and am around common souls whose heads start to nod and feet start to tap as the music fills the room, letting me know it was a good selection. I don’t know if an unlimited public playlist selection can offer that same kind of community.

But hey, maybe I’m just an old fashioned.

Even if the Roqbot is the wave of the future, though, I’m still going to go down to my favorite dives and give a quarter of tribute to one of the most pure fun inventions of all time.


Review: Castiv Guitar Sidekick

Guitar Sidekick - Hand Shot

I’ve spent my Thursday nights over the past couple weeks enjoying the mild North Carolina autumn on a friend’s porch. A group of us get together, drink whiskey, and play guitar. It’s a good time, and though our musical tastes span a wide variety of genres, we can usually keep up with one another. There are those rare instances, though, where I’m glad to have an iPhone. I can dig up lyrics and tabs on the go. There’s just one problem: where do I put the phone? With the well-documented fragility of the iPhone’s glass, I don’t want to accidentally drop it on a cement porch.

Enter Castiv’s Guitar Sidekick. It’s a slick little gadget designed with this very problem in mind. The Guitar Sidekick consists of a rubber lined clip that grips your strings between the nut and the tuners and provides a cradle for your phone. The cradle is basically a spring-loaded claw with rubberized grips to keep your phone in place. It sounds tenuous, and trust me, it looks tenuous. That’s why I tested it over my bed before taking it for a porch session. I was shocked that it held so well, though if you’re really nervous about stability, just use a case along with the Castiv. The Apple Bumper, for instance, made the grip a rubber to rubber connection. My phone wasn’t going anywhere.

My only real complaint about the Guitar Sidekick is that it can be difficult to get the angle just right. It can be tough to secure a tight lock for the claw part of the device and adjust it to the right angle. It’s not impossible, just a nuisance. The good news is that you can secure a tight lock, which is probably of greater concern.

All in all, I think the Castiv Guitar Sidekick will be great for anyone looking to pick up songs quickly at an impromptu jam session. It’s application will be a little limited elsewhere, at least until there is a wide offering of apps across several mobile platforms.


Top 3 – Free Music Apps for the iPhone

Pandora Radio

It’s time to break through the clutter and get down to business. This weekly post is going to list not the top 10, or the top 5, but the top 3 of anything gadget related. Why the top 3? Because anything more would be watered down.

So without further ado, here are the top 3 free music apps for the iPhone.

3. American Public Media’s – Public Radio Tuner
You don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy public radio. I do. And this app provides access to hundreds of public radio stations which will keep you up-to-date with the most honest and unbiased take on news available. So whether you prefer to listen to “This American Life,” “Marketplace,” or “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” this app will hook you up with free streaming NPR anywhere you go.

2. Shazam Entertainment Ltd.’s – Shazam
Who hasn’t ever been listening to the radio wondering what the name and artist of the song is you’re listening to. Well, use Shazam and you’ll never wonder again. That’s right, with Shazam you only have to open up the app, click “Tag Now” and in about 10 seconds you’ll have the artist name, song name, album name and more. You’ll also have links to download the song from iTunes, watch the video on YouTube or read reviews. Now that is sweet.

1. Pandora Media Inc.’s – Pandora Radio
Traditional music stations should be scared because with Pandora Radio you can get personalized radio stations for free that stream directly to your iPhone. No commercials. No bad music. Just create a station based on an artist or song that you like and Pandora instantly starts streaming music that matches your taste. Best of all… no commercials! Sounds crazy, I know. Pandora Radio even learns. Don’t like a song being played? Give it a thumbs down and never hear it again. Plus, I’ve never had an issue with songs skipping or slow playback, even while streaming over Edge. For all these reasons, Pandora Radio is the best free music app on the iPhone and also the reason I will be cancelling my XM account.