This Sleek Music Player Concept Has a Gimmick to It That I’m Obsessed With

This Sleek Music Player Concept Has a Gimmick to It That I’m Obsessed With

We’ve mastered efficiency when it comes to music players and streamers, so much so that I could just go ahead and play pretty much any song I wanted to on Spotify or Apple Music, but in everything being quick, we’ve lost touch with the joy of the physical side of music, stuff like loading chunky cassette tapes into players or pushing in real, physical buttons. That’s exactly what this incredible concept ‘Tiles’ player is going for.

Now, to get ahead of things, this isn’t a new thing. It’s not even something you can buy – it was something a team of really intuitive designers put together for a course at the Umeå Institute of Design back in 2022. It was brought to my attention through a viral Twitter post, and it was just so fascinating a piece of tech that I just had to write about it.

The whole idea with Tiles is to make music playback “the sophisticated process it was intended to be”, designer Kay van den Aker wrote on his portfolio. He’s got a lot of great work on his website, but he admits in this post that he didn’t do everything for the tile and that he was mostly credible for the video editing and mock-up design. The team also included designers Emile Chuffart, Tobias Ertel, and Oscar Olsson.

As you can see in the video above, Tiles looks vaguely Apple-like. Broadly speaking, it has a six ’tile’ design with two feet, with the top three tiles dedicated to selecting an album. The middle tile can be clicked down, much like clicking a cassette down into a cassette player, which would then likely start the music. There’s a volume knob on the bottom right tile.

“Modern music listening experiences often lack suspense” van den Aker wrote.

“The black box present in modern technologies such as mobile phones abstract away what’s going on behind the interface and don’t require any process to interact with. Any song in the world is just one click away, no sonic feedback, no haptic feedback and flat visual feedback.”

I’m genuinely so obsessed with Tiles, these designers were absolutely cooking. It’d be cooler if it had input for physical media, but it’s a concept, this isn’t meant to be a ready-for-market device.

But maybe it should be! It rocks! I love it.

I encourage you to read through van den Aker’s prototyping log on his portfolio site. It’s remarkable to see how a thing like this can be developed. If something like the Rabbit R1, the Play Date, or the Humane pin can be developed, surely there’s room for something like this.

Image: Kay van den Aker

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