Over the last 12 months there have been bursts of Twitter outrage from well established artists having their Soundcloud pages removed due to copyright violations for offences…
Turn your friends into a portable sound system
It was in August 2014 when I was in Whistler (US) that the idea of AmpMe came to me. My friend Mel had just moved into her new apartment and invited us to come over for a drink. So I went over with my friends Derek, Leanne and Terri. We brought some Champagne and immediately wanted to put some music but her pad wasn’t fully furnished yet and didn’t have any sound system set up.
So I put Spotify on my phone and left it on the table in a cup to try and get some decent sound… like I am sure a lot of you have done before.
The girls immediately wanted to dance but the music wasn’t loud enough… it’s at that moment that I told myself: “Wait a minute… we all have speakers (phones) in our pockets… wouldn’t it be awesome if we could all sync them together to create a huge speaker!”.
At that moment I tried opening up Spotify on Derek’s phone and we hit “PLAY” at the exact same time but the music was off sync by about a second so it sounded pretty weird.
As soon as I got back home in Montreal I hired a team to try and figure out how we could perfectly sync music on phones to create the world’s most portable sound system. It took about a year of work before I was confident enough to show it to you today.
Initially we thought we could sync phones via Bluetooth, but we quickly realized that iOS and Android phones cannot be connected together via Bluetooth — so this wasn’t an option. We also looked at connecting all the phones together on the same Wi-Fi network but this was a huge friction point for the users and Wi-Fi networks slow down very quickly. We wanted AmpMe to work on device with an Internet connection (Wi-Fi or via any cell phone carrier).
That’s when we decided to try using the phone’s microphone to listen to what the other phones were playing and achieve perfect sync. Since all songs are different and it was impossible to recognize them all (unless you are Shazam of course!), we decided to add our own “fingerprints” of “high-frequency sounds” at the beginning of the stream so the phones could listen to each hear each other and correct any offset/drift they may have. After lots of trial and error we finally got it to work and I started giving demos to partners and the press… I was amazed by the “wow moment” people had when they heard the music they love 3–4 times as loud when we connect a few phones together. It’s when I saw this reaction over and over that I thought we were ready to launch it to the world.
Of course it’s not perfect yet — to be honest I am not sure anything can ever be — so it’s possible that you’ll randomly get “off sync” when you try it, but it should work most of the time as we tested it on most new Android devices and on all iOS devices. Just like Shazam did over the past few years, we will keep on improving AmpMe to reduce the initial time it takes to sync and we will get it synced perfectly most of the time.
So please give AmpMe a try with your friends and give us some feedback! Our goal is to make the world’s most portable sound system and we need you to help us get there :).