Gaming peripheral maker Razer has decided to try its hand in the social music scene with its subsidiary Jook Inc. The company has developed a new technology--aptly called Jook--that allows users of any MP3 player to share music with others in the same vicinity. It consists of two parts: a transmitter that plugs into any MP3 player (via either a 3.5mm headphone jack connection or proprietary dock based on the player) and an indicator light that hangs from down the front of the user as part of the headphone cable. A button or switch on either the transmitter or indicator will allow users to switch between three modes: Me, Us, and U. In Me mode, the indicator remains off and users listen to only their own music. Us mode let's the wearer broadcast his or her music to others with Jook enabled devices; the ambient light glows red to alert others that they may tune in. If you see another user with a glowing red light, you can switch to U mode to access that person's playlist. A green glow let's the broadcaster know you are listening.
Of course, no social music environment is complete without an online component. Users create a profile to be stored on their Jook-enabled device, and can decide to share this profile with other listeners or broadcasters. This allows them to connect later on the Web, where each person can create a page that contains as much or as little information as he or she wants to share. The site will also provide a forum for discussing music tastes and rating other Jook users' musical tastes.
One of the most compelling things about Jook is that it is inexpensive to make. The technology will be available as an add-on to MP3 players, headphones, and other portable audio devices, so users won't necessarily have to purchase a whole new player (such as a Zune) to get into the sharing pool. However, it's unclear whether Jook will ever be available as a separate device for consumers; rather, it may need to be built into headphones, given the indicator light that needs to be integrated into the whole setup.