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Brief Published: 20 Mar 2014

Aether: The Intuitive Speaker

Aether speaker

San Francisco-based start-up Aether has launched its first product – a speaker that learns to predict the music the user will want to listen to. The wi-fi-connected speaker can play any music a user already owns, as well as stream radio, podcasts and music services, creating an all-round personalised experience. 

A simple and intuitive interface gives a huge amount of control without the need for a paired device; a slight twist of the speaker grill changes or repeats the track, while twisting it further changes the type of music played completely. Voice control can also be used to select specific artists, tracks or genres.

Using data gathered from the user’s listening history, when switched on, the device will make a prediction based on previous choices. For instance, if a user asks to listen to the same podcast every Monday morning, it will automatically select that podcast every Monday morning, or learn to play relaxing music if that is what is normally chosen on a weekday evening. 

The speaker’s minimal cone shape leans on its side, adding a sense of informality suited to the wireless, portable design. An eight-hour battery life allows it to be used anywhere within the home. Due to launch this summer, the $399 speaker will initially be available in contemporary black and copper or white and silver finishes.

Seamless forms with minimal buttons and detailing are becoming popular in consumer electronics as designers look to create intuitive designs – see more examples in Design Democracy: Integrate. For other examples of products using data to personalise user experience, see Elastic Tech and our blogposts about a phone that can sense a user’s mood and a grocery app that can predict food-shopping needs.  

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