Roper‘s Radio Activity device selects tracks from online music provider Spotify based on their tempo, which can be adjusted by sliding its circular aluminium dial up and down a vertical pole.
The product then automatically selects tracks from the user’s music library that match the tempo it is set to, and plays them when connected to speakers.
It works on the basis that Spotify organises tracks by genre, and that tracks from the same genres tend to include similar beats per minute (BPM).
Roper programmed the device to recognise the different Spotify genres and only play the songs within the categories that match the setting.
“I wrote several iterations of code using a combination of programs that would allow me to access Spotify libraries, read song BPM and then translate vertical movement into data that would select correlating paced songs,” she said.
A marble base houses the majority of the electronics and supports the vertical steel pole onto which the dial is mounted.
“The internal component composition is incredibly complicated, as the electrical current needed to be carried throughout the length of the rail on small brass tracks that are connected to tiny switches inside the dial all the way to an Arduino Micro in the marble base,” Roper explained.
The minimal form mimics a metronome, which can be set in beats per minute to provide a regular ticking sound, using a similar vertical movement to increase tempo.
The metal dial, which can also be rotated to alter the volume, is designed to reference the dials on old hi-fi systems and to provide a tactile alternative to navigating digital music services on screen.
“We have now reached a point where we are presented with an overload of digital content that is often time-consuming to navigate, particularly if you just want to create a mood within a space with music,” Roper told Dezeen.
The increments up the length of the shaft begin at 60-85 BPM, the tempo of slower classical music. Moving upward, 85-110 BPM encompasses hip-hop, 110-135 BPM covers most house and techno music, and 135-160 BPM includes dubstep.
Drum and bass, jungle and juke come under 160-180 BPM, then 180+ BPM is for anything faster.
“We have now reached a point where we are presented with an overload of digital content that is often time consuming to navigate, particularly if you just want to create a mood within a space with music,” said Roper.
“I am fascinated by the radio, and feel that it is a really relevant and versatile medium for exploring the blurred boundaries of the physical and digital realms.”
The designer hopes to work with developers to fine-tune the device and apply the idea to other music platforms like Soundcloud.
Roper studied on the RCA’s Design Products course, where she also created bone-conducting headphones that allow cyclists to hear traffic noise while listening to music.
Both projects were presented at last month’s Show RCA 2015 exhibition, which also featured a glove that can carve hard materials and a range of interactive household objects that includes a toaster that needs hugging.