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HolidayBuyer's Guide
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Dear Apple, about the next iPod

What can Apple do with the iPod? How about an iPod that senses your mood and automatically plays music that is in tune with how you are feeling?

I often wake up with a tune playing in my head. I don't know why it's that particular tune, and sometimes I waterboard myself for hours trying to find the reason for this apparently random madness.

This morning, for example, it was that Spanish Lullaby song that Madonna numbed us with some time around the last century. (I never said it was only good songs that blared in my internal jukebox.)

So why might one's mind have been invaded by "La Isla Bonita?" Was it because this time last year I was in Spain, sipping sangria with some dubious Europeans? Was it because last night I saw a trailer of a new film directed by Madonna's last husband? Was it because I hadn't had enough sleep?

All this thinking is painful and useless, but it has brought me to an idea for Apple: it's time the company took the apparent randomness of the iPod Shuffle and made it mean something.

Let the iPod Shrink be the stethoscope of your soul. Cc 1HappySnapper/Flickr

Might I propose that Apple creates an iPod that, whenever worn on your person, can immediately discern your mood? Please imagine that this new iPod, let's call it the iPod Shrink, is a tiny little thing that has within it even tinier sensors that monitor your heart rate, your blood pressure, your digestive calm, even your sweat level.

On the basis of this entirely factual information, the iPod Shrink would then select the precise piece of music that would match your mood. It's important to consider just what is meant by "match your mood."

Perhaps you, the moody consumer, might have the ability to ask the iPod Shrink to enhance your mood or to counteract it.

If you ask for counteraction and the machine sees that you're miserable, the iPod Shrink would bypass "My Immortal" by Evanescence, "Creep" by Radiohead or anything by James Blunt and go straight to "I Feel Good" by James Brown or the utterly classic Manilow rendition of "Copacabana." For enhancement, it would do the reverse.

If it detected anger, it could soothe you with some Bebel Gilberto or stoke your fires with some Sex Pistols. If it detected concern, it might offer the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris." Or, alternatively, something from Disturbed's fine little album "The Sickness."

Perhaps the greatest surprise for you, the iPod Shrink owner, would be to discover what mood you are actually in. After all, your little device would be more familiar with the true scientific nature of your innards than would you. So your own self-knowledge would surely be enhanced by such a wickedly wily machine.

This could be a very big seller. It would certainly make me look more kindly on the self-absorbed, frustrated, preening, angst-ridden waddlers in the gym.