The music compilation tape, a mainstay of the 1970s and 80s, has been given a 21st century digital makeover by researchers at Lancaster University. Jim Drury reports.
30 years ago, recording mix tapes ruled. It took time and effort to meticulously record songs on to a cassette tape one at a time. The finished compilation was a story of sorts, a reflection of the feelings you wanted to express. UPSOT: MUSIC But the digital age has rendered the pastime old hat. Professor Paul Coulton wants to revive the idea for the 21st Century by using the same technology used in London Underground payment cards. SOUNDBITE (English) LANCASTER UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF SPECULATIVE AND GAME DESIGN, PAUL COULTON, SAYING: "Basically it's quite simple in that it takes NFC tags, which is the technology behind the Oyster card where you can imbed digital information in this tag and then it allows those tags to be put into a piece of custom jewellery....I pick the one I want, touch the tag to the back of the phone, and there it is. So the song is recorded on that. What you would normally do then is add that link into your piece of jewellery, keep it going until you've filled it up with songs, and then you can give that to the person as a present." Researchers designed a 3D printed player to read the digital bracelet from top to bottom in the order intended by the compilation creator. Playback comes through an Arduino connected to a Raspberry Pi. SOUNDBITE (English) LANCASTER UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF SPECULATIVE AND GAME DESIGN, PAUL COULTON, SAYING: "So we created a player that very much mirrors the old mechanical record player, where you used to see how far it had gone through the arm moving. Here the rod shows you how far it is through the playlist." UPSOT: MUSIC SOUNDBITE (English) LANCASTER UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF SPECULATIVE AND GAME DESIGN, PAUL COULTON, SAYING: "People still like the tangibility of things, and they embed emotional value and you don't really see that with their digital counterparts. A playlist isn't the same as having something physical, a record, so people like that tangibility." There are no plans to commercialise the device, but Coulton thinks his invention brings a much needed 'old school' touch to the modern playlist. UPSOT: MUSIC