Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Audio Equipment Ideas for Auto and After Market Manufacturers

Technology has come a long way since I bought my first aftermarket "head unit" from Pioneer back in 1984. I went through quite a few tape decks during my years with a souped up Mustang: Pioneer (fetish for quality imposed its early demise), then Concord, then Clarion's high-end Audia. Got the amps (ADS), the hi-fi speakers, did it all myself.

I once got a ticket for disturbing the peace on a hot summer night.  

Good times.

Nowadays, with digitized music, why do I care about CD changers, iPod connections and the like? Why can't I just connect wirelessly to a music server in the sky and fetch my songs that I bought with my own money?

The "music industry" (really just a bunch of pimps), that's why. But I digress.

Here's my vision for the future of car audio (and video, for that matter, though I don't see the appeal of video because I'm always the driver!!!).

Two methods of music storage. Keep your CDs, DVDs, iTunes, and other music at home. Either carry it all around in the form of a disk drive (USB, hard disk, doesn't really matter, as long as it's small, portable, and bulletproof) or access it wirelessly through the ether.

Head units will still have tuners and amps. They'd all have voice recognition, though, since I'd want to say, "Play Van Halen's You Really Got Me" (the song that got me pulled over nearly 25 years ago) and, like magic, it would play.

I could carry my music-filled disk around with me (maybe on a key chain) and plug it in wherever: My car, my SUV, my boat, or my freakin' airplane. Hey, I could even plug it into my friend's home stereo. What a concept!

Or, better yet, I could share my music (with authentication) with my car, truck, boat, plane, or friend over the Internet.

In short, everything would be web-ready and wireless. With voice recognition. This technology would be smart, too. It would remember where I left off, would keep track of what my most -- and least -- played songs, albums, and lists are, and it would tell me when my favorites have been updated, included in a soundtrack or compilation (I might like the other songs there, too), or when one of my favorite artists were in town.

It would give me advance notice of ticket prices and places, too. Maybe even discounts for frequent listening.

By the way, the home audio industry has done some of this, but not all. The ideal world would present me with zero barriers to take and play my music anywhere.

The "music industry" has so much potential but absolutely no imagination. It's amazing to me that the industry has creators of the content who are so innovative and creative, and the rulers of the universe are so brain-dead, incompetent, and closed-minded.

It's a shame, really. Enterprising originators of music (also known as singers and writers) could take some of these suggestions and run with them, but the infrastructure and industry must take an active, empowering role in all of this.

This stuff would be standards-based (something Sony and Phillips know about) and needs wide industry backing, funding, and support.

I'd love for somebody, like Sony, Amazon, or Apple, to take the lead. But they won't because they're all so damned complacent.