Prizm want to build a context-aware music streaming adapter

This is cool: A French startup wants to build a music streaming adapter that is contextually aware of its environment, and adapts both the music it plays and the volume to the people, conversations and noise level in the room.

The Prizm, as the device is called, checks for the presence of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices, identifying their owners through MAC addresses and Bluetooth device names. Prizm can then mix and match music based on user profiles to adapt to its audience. Here’s how the company described it on its Kickstarter page:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]If you are alone, Prizm plays music for you. If your companion is alone, it plays music for him/her. And if you are together in the room, it merges both of your tastes and picks a song both of you will love.[/blockquote]

Prizm also includes a microphone that measures the sound level in the room to figure out whether those five people it just identified are part of a study group, or busy partying, and adjusts the volume and music itself accordingly.

It can be plugged into any existing stereo, and the device offers a few simple buttons to start playback, skip songs you don’t like, and add the ones you like to a playlist on your favorite service. At launch, the device is supposed to support Spotify, Deezer and Soundcloud, but Prizm’s maker’s promise to add additional services down the line.

Prizm’s Kickstarter campaign, which is already fully funded, is running for another month, and backers have a chance to get a device for $119 and up. The company plans to ship devices to backers by June 2015. The first batch of devices won’t support Sonos-like multi-room playback, but Prizm co-founder Olivier Roberdet told me that the company is looking into platforms like Allplay to support this for future iterations. “You can always plug Prizm [into] a Sonos Connect” to get multi-room audio, he added.

Prizm’s contextual approach is pretty clever, as it solves a key problem of connected loudspeakers: Connected devices in the living room are communal, but music subscription services like Spotify or personalized radio services like Pandora are tied to individual accounts.

Netflix has been trying to solve this in the video space by adding profiles for individual family members, and Fon’s Gramofon music router is using Facebook to bring a basic social layer to music streaming in the living room — but automatic contextual and social awareness could make for even better music streaming devices.