At Midem Hack Day 2013, Oscar Celma presented a surprising made-in-Cannes invention: his app allowed you to ‘flip the bird’ to your computer when it played a song you didn’t like, or show your approval if you did like it! How was this, one of Midem Hack Day’s most memorable creations, conceived? Celma, now director of research at Pandora, explained all to midemblog…
midemblog: Could you please describe the hack you developed? (including the tech it uses)
Oscar Celma: The main goal of the hack was being able to provide feedback to a music playlist using hand gestures. In terms of tech, I used Python, OpenCV (an image processing library), and Flask to build the website. I also used Bandcamp API to get the audio.
> Why did you decide to make this hack in particular? What problem were you aiming to solve?
I was thinking about a new and cool way to interact with a music service. Touch and Voice controls are already efficient in order to provide feedback to a particular track (skip, pause, thumb up or down, etc.). So I decided that another way to interact with the service could be via your hands. That is, you can thumb up a song (doing the classic rock sign with two fingers). But also thumbing down a song. You know, when that smart music service decides to play a song that you really hate. What a better way to show the middle finger to skip that song? You feel way more relaxed after doing it!
> What was the hardest thing about making it?
The hardest bit was to detect the hand from the webcam, and then once the hand is detected focus on the shape (rock sign to thumb up, or the NSFW middle finger to thumb down the song). Another hard thing was to come up with a name for the hack. I’m particularly proud of the [EXPLICIT] Feedback bit. You know what I mean, if you ever look at hip-hop song titles.
> What happened to the hack since? Was it used for anything else? Did it inspire other developers? Or even go commercial?
As most other hacks, the main goal was to prove a new idea; something a little bit crazy that you wouldn’t do in your normal 9-5 day (especially in this case, where you don’t want to “NSFW thumb down” a lot of songs in front of your boss!).
This is the third in a series of posts celebrating the fifth anniversary of Midem Hack Day, which will return next Midem, June 2015! More soon…