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Rock DJ 101

Dancing at a Party

The pockets of the nation are bubbling with music. Mobile phones have now become music players as the computers find ever more fascinating places to hide, and ever more interesting ways to entertain us. Loads of information about your musical taste is there in your play lists. A team of Computer Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles think it's time it came out to party.

Party people pocket polling

Their system, called 'Smart party', is one of the first to look at applying a bit of artificial intelligence to make social music. It's been developed to help provide the right soundtrack to parties. Forget the DJ having to worry what tracks to play. The people in the room will do all the work, even providing the music and they won't even notice.

The phone vote is now open

The Smart party system uses wireless technology, built into most mobile phones these days, to discover what tracks you have stored on your phone. It then downloads them onto a central party computer. Having downloaded all the music from the assembled party crowd the software then searches through it to find the most popular tracks, or looks at the types of music the crowd has stored. Would Heavy Metal or RnB be most popular? Like a digital version of TV's X factor the software then plays the most popular ones, based on the votes cast by your phones. The software can even be programmed to choose a track at random from each person in the group to play in turn. Smart party is currently installed in offices in the University, and so far only works with tracks stored on laptops, but it's only a matter of time till it's able to link with mobile devices like phones and the days of rubbish DJ's will be numbered (perhaps).

Lock DJ

Hmmm. There is a bit of a legal problem with this though that you may have noticed. The computer needs to make copies of all the tracks it found to be able to play them, so as it stands it's actually breaking current copyright laws. The DJ system would need to go off and buy all the tracks voted for at each party. The scientists are looking at ways to allow the tracks to pass on their licence temporarily so the system isn't breaking the law, by playing them from the phones. Hopefully, one way or another, it wont be a problem in the future. After all it's tough to arrest software. It goes all to bits.

Rock the vote

Even now people are thinking of some wicked ways to play the system if it becomes popular. Imagine loading up your phone with screechy Italian Opera tracks, or cheesy German cover versions of Abba songs. The computer systems doesn't have taste. It just goes with the votes, so you could trick it into playing some really rubbish music. A new team pastime of Music Wars might just be what the party needs. It might be difficult to explain to your mates later why you have all those naff tracks on your phone though!