Democratic Radio

We listen to a lot of music. It is a part of our identity. Yet the music being played in shared spaces rarely acts as a reflection of our identity. In a time where we have so much choice over what we do and where we go, why isn’t there an opportunity to affect what we listen to in a cafe, a hotel lobby or a co-working space?

The Democratic radio (DR) is a device that allows for a seamless and fair listening experience between multiple people in a shared space. Instead of one entity having control over the sound, the Democratic Radio’s multiple devices gives partial control to each listener. One can react to the current song by turning one’s volume up or down which influences one’s fair portion of the master volume. When enough people collectively turn their unit volume down, the master volume will drop below a threshold and the radio station will switch.

Coding the algorithm involved some experimentation combining Arduino, an open-source prototyping platform with Processing, a coding software for designers. Making the DR an interactive device involved motorized pots, Arduino UNO boards, fast LEDs and a whole lot of wire.

Looking ahead, DR can deliver a smarter listening experience by queuing songs based on everyone’s tastes. When with friends of similar musical preferences, one can enjoy a familiar, comfortable soundscape. When with people of diverse musical taste, DR will uncover hidden gems in common ground and broaden your musical horizons.