Rethinking home audio and understanding how and where people share music was the jumping point for creating Skube. We realized that as we are moving more towards a digital and online music listening experience, current portable music players are not adapted for this environment. And sharing music in communal spaces is neither convenient nor easy, especially when we all have such different taste in music.

The result of our exploration is Skube, a music player that allows you to discover and share music and facilitates the decision process of picking tracks when in a communal setting.

There are two modes, Playlist and Discovery. Playlist plays the tracks on your Skube, while Discovery looks for tracks similar to the ones on your Skube so you can discover new music that still fits your taste. When Skubes are connected together, they act as one player that shuffles between all the playlists. You can control the system as a whole using any Skube.


The interface is designed to be intuitive and tangible. Flipping the Skube changes the modes, tapping will play or skip songs and flipping a Skube on its front face will turn it off. The shape informs the user to the ways they are able to connect the music players together. This allows different Skubes to be in either Discovery mode or Playlist mode when connected to other players. When multiple Skubes are connected together,they act as one music player and they contribute to a global playlist that is played on all them.


How it works

It is a fully working prototype through the combination of using ArduinoMax/MSP and an XBee wireless network. We access the API to populate the Skube with tracks and scrobble, and using their algorithms to find similar music when in Discover mode. Then using Applescript, we get Spotify to play the music. We use XBees for the wireless communication between the Skubes and to the computer using custom software that manages all this.

You can see the inner workings of the Skube in this litte video:


This project was made by Andrew Nip, Ruben van der Vleuten, Malthe Borch, and Andrew Spitz (me). It was part of the Tangible User Interface module at CIID ran by Vinay Venkatraman, David Cuartielles, Richard Shed, and Tomek Ness.


57 Responses to “Skube – A & Spotify Radio {+ tangible}”  

  1. 1 Guilherme Freitas de Carvalho


  2. 2 Luke

    Hey guy’s I’m not normally one to leave comments but that has truly blown me away. I think it’s one of the nicest and most useable radio player idea’s I’ve seen. Are you making the code available for others to expand on the concept or are there any plans to sell them?

  3. 3 Livia

    This rocks!! I really hope you’re gonna produce and sell them! Please let me know if you plan to do so. Thanks! :-)

  4. 4 Andrew Spitz

    Hi Luke, thanks so much! We appreciate your comment :-)

    If you saw the code, you’d probably get an instant heart attack. It’s a pretty big and messy system that works for the specific needs of the Skubes and hardware we’re using. But when I have some time, I want to release the API stuff done in Max. I’m insanely busy at the moment (borderline drowning!) so it won’t be for a while.

  5. 5 Andre

    I am definitely interested in purchasing a couple of these devices… I think you have done is ground breaking!
    Please inform me when or if you start a kickstarter fund.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. 6 Matt

    Very nicely done. That’s a very interesting use of the orientation of the device as a control input. Could you think of how to use that for the volume or “save” operations as well? It would be super-sleek if it didn’t need a button/knob at all.

    Also, what’s the audio track in the second video?

  7. 7 laura - pro sound effects

    andrew et al, awesome! makes me want to dust off my arduino projects and get back to soldering and coding in max. what i’m most impressed with, aside from the overall concept, is the cute and charming design of the speaker! but can you configure multiple skubes to play back stereo or surround?

  8. 8 Andrew Spitz

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments! Hopefully we can find a way to make it for real.

    @Matt, we thought a great deal about taking away all buttons, but there’s always the risk of loosing people along the way. Plus for some things, you can’t replace the awesome feel of a button. The track is this:
    Artist – Emancipator
    Track – Old Evil
    Album – Safe in the Steep Cliffs

    Thanks, @Laura. Yes you should! We really wanted to create an intelligent spatial system, but having these Skube be spatially self-aware would have been a whole other ball game (that needs times!). Hope all is well in NYC :-)

  9. 9 al.jes

    If you sell some, I’ll buy some. You got my mail, could you tell me if and when you’d sell some?

  10. 10 Andrew Spitz

    Hey al.jes, for sure! Thanks for the support. Not sure if or when it will happen though.

  11. 11 alcab

    Why don’t publish source code et schema under free licence ?

  12. 12 Andrew Spitz

    Cause it’s chaos and madness in there, and it’s super specific to our system :-) It will take a lot of time to turn the code into something people can just pick up and work from. Going to release sections of it when I have time (like API and stuff).

  13. 13 gotang20

    my mind has been blown into pieces.. still in shock
    it’s an amazing job.. maybe consider “kickstarting” it?

  14. 14 Andrew Spitz

    Thanks so much, gotang20! We’re looking at that avenue :-)

  15. 15 Lilia Rhodes

    That’s just so awesome! Your minds are so brilliant for coming up with this. Please make this for real. :)

  16. 16 Andrew Spitz

    Thanks, Lilia. Hopefully we can make it for real! Fingers crossed.

  17. 17 Richard

    Regarding spatial awareness, maybe you could detect the Skube lying on it’s side: right side for right channel (and light an LED red), left side for left channel (and light the LED green). I assume that if you want individual channels then you are playing a shuffled group-playlist.

    This is a great idea and I can see it could really catch on if it was released into the right audience at the right price. Please do not let it get lost.

  18. 18 Andrew Spitz

    Hey Richard, thanks for the comment. That was one of our original things we wanted to do. But we didn’t have time to implement it :-)

  19. 19 Wenting

    When you said using spotify to play the music, so it must have the computer by its side? When people want to share music, they have to put their computer side by side within the range of the bluetooth?
    I am being picky here. This is a near-perfect project, the concept, the 3d, the implementation, all very brilliant!

  20. 20 Andrew Spitz

    Thanks for the kind words, Wenting. For now it’s a (working) prototype, which means it is tethered wirelessly to a computer. If/when manufactured, obviously it would be independent of the computer (appart from loading the playlists). Thanks for the feedback!

  21. 21 Robert Gallup

    Awesome project! I have one question, I see the FM receiver that each Skube has … but, what is doing the transmitting? Is this connected to the laptop?

  22. 22 Andrew Spitz

    Hi Robert, yes it’s transmitting from the computer for this prototype. If we develop further it would be done differently but we didn’t have much time to make this so we couldn’t get that part implemented independently.

  23. 23 Sam

    I like the idea behind the Skube. It’s portable and I like its design. I hope the Skube can support high quality audio formats like Flac or WAV. If it does I’ll probably get one as soon as they are on the market. The Skube would also be a good thing to have at a recording studio. You could share your music with your clients and your clients can share their music with the engineer. If this gets popular that could be a real possibility. It could also be used to share reference tracks between the client and the engineer. All in all I want this product to take off and be super popular so that the engineer of our studio can use it to save time.
    Thanks for posting this.

  24. 24 Andrew Spitz

    Hi Sam,

    Thanks so much for the comment! Just to let you know, we’re not manufacturing it yet… For now it’s staying in the land of prototypes :-) That said, we’re totally open to push this further if we find someone keen to back it.

    As it stands, the quality of the audio is pretty low. If we had to make this for real, high audio would be my priority!

    Thanks for the insight into your context, never even thought of that scenario!


  25. 25 Stand Up Blog
  26. 26 solji

    Hi. very interesting player I saw. How do I know whether or not it has a design patent?

  27. 27 Andrew Spitz

    Glad you like it! Send me an email so we can hear more.

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