What the Nest does for the temperature, Prizm does for the music in your house: It learns what you like and adjusts the environment to suit your needs.
You can preorder it now on Kickstarter, where Prizm has just started a crowdfunding project to make its gadget a reality.
Prizm works like this: You download its app and connect your music accounts (SoundCloud, Spotify, Deezer), hook it up to your favorite speakers, and start listening to either random music (for discovery) or from your library or playlists. On its sides, Prism has heart and X buttons that let you “like” and “dislike” songs, teaching Prizm your music preferences.
“It’s basically a Tinder for music,” said co-founder Olivier Roberdet in an interview with VentureBeat.
Along with using your likes and dislikes to calibrate to your taste, Prizm will also help you discover new music by adding new songs you “like” to your music library.
“One of the problems we tried to address was the typical case where you pay a monthly fee,” Roberdet said. Despite having access to very large libraries of music, he and his team have found that most people don’t add more than about ten new songs per month.
But what’s even cooler about Prizm is that it’s “context-aware,” which means it takes cues both from the environment, as well as other people.
First, on the environment side, Prizm considers things like time of day, day of the week, noise level in the room, and more, in order to pick the best music for you. For example, it might figure out, over time, that you like instrumental jazz while studying or catching up on some work in the evenings, so it will play that when it detects that context.
Then, it also takes into account the people in the room. As we mentioned, Prizm helps you compromise on what music to play in the room. When you come into the room, Prizm’s mobile app on your phone signals to the device that you’re here and that it should play music from your music accounts. Then, when a friend comes into the room as well to, say, hang out with you, Prizm picks up their presence in the room (presumably, they have the Prizm app on their phone as well, emitting signals to the device), and adjusts the music to a common ground between the two of you. To do so, Prizm will either find common songs or genres that you both like, or alternate between your music preferences if your music tastes don’t overlap at all, and in which case you should consider rethinking your friendship, no?
You can of course also manually adjust any settings and tell Prizm what you want. If it’s playing jazz while you’re studying in the evening and you’d like it to play classical music in those instances, tell it. The mobile app has buttons for all kinds of these settings, and can also just serve as a remote control for Prizm if you’re too lazy to walk over there to press the buttons.
“What we wanted was to make music very spontaneous like turning on the radio,” Roberdet said. Ideally, you could just walk in, press Prizm’s “on” button, and it would immediately start playing the perfect music for the moment, and that’s why there’s such an emphasis on learning. Prizm does that through fancy algorithms and machine learning.
Now, the idea of a “learning speaker” isn’t exactly new. Aether’s cone-shaped speaker does pretty much the same thing, but exclusively for Rdio Unlimited subscribers. But Roberdet says Prizm’s approach is more universal. Not only does it work with multiple music services (the company is planning to add more to the three is already has), but it lets people continue to use their favorite speaker to listen to music. And we all know how picky people can get about their speakers.
Eventually, the Prizm team could extend its device beyond music and make other apps, services, or software work with its technology. Voice notifications and other connected home devices could also be in its future, Roberdet said.
So if the Prizm sounds like the gadget you’ve been looking for, you can now preorder it for $99 on Kickstarter if you’re among the first 150 backers, or shell out $129 for the next batch. The team is looking for $70,000 in order to reach its goal.
Prizm was developed by Ubithings, a French startup founded in 2013 by Arthur Eberhardt, Olivier Roberdet, Pierre Gochgarian, and Pierre Verdu. The team is working out of French university Arts et Métiers ParisTech’s incubator, and French telecom Orange is helping the team with its manufacturing.