Little wooden hexagons rewrite the tape player
The Qleek content player uses current technology to take a step back in time for experiencing your music, movies and photos.
Digitised content is more convenient in many ways, but there's one thing that it can't provide: the tactile pleasure of a physical collection. The world may have made a sharp turn away from CDs, but one company believes that physical media can make a return -- if, perhaps, that physical media is also beautifully designed.
Qleek, created by Ozenge Studio in France, certainly fits the bill. It consists of the basic Qleek player, a sleek, beechwood-clad player, and wooden hexagons called Tapps -- which can be customised with images of your choice -- that can be placed on the player to play your content.
The content, however, is not stored on the Tapps. Rather, each Tapp has an NFC chip inside that links to media of your choice, such as a playlist or a season of TV, stored on your PC; or a YouTube channel, a Spotify playlist, an Instagram feed or a podcast. It connects to your devices via Bluetooth, then streams it to your Bluetooth-compatible television, stereo or speaker.
Ozenge also said the Qleek can remember where you stopped watching, starting up again where you left off -- useful if you're watching a 24-episode season -- and an HDMI connector allows it to support HD content.
The Tapps, then, are little more than physical links to your content, rather than the content itself, but the idea is to recreate that feeling of owning a collection, giving a mixtape, putting a record on the turntable.
Like a cassette, each Tapp can be rewritten, and special wall mounts called Hives allow you to display your collection like a piece of art.
Will it catch on? They're certainly beautiful objects, and they do offer some convenience. Imagine, say, having a party, where your playlists are instantly locatable -- all you have to do is switch Tapps. The idea of giving Tapp mixtapes as gifts is a compelling one too, although possibly not as good as a USB, where the media is stored on the device.
The system is currently going for a pledge of $249 on Indiegogo, and the Ozenge team is seeking $70,000 in funding. The tough sell will be convincing customers that that's a price worth paying for something pretty that they don't really need.