Here Comes the Hot Stepper

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The serendipitous feeling of your iPod shuffling in time with your mood is getting a little bit easier to capture thanks to SynchStep, an application for the iPhone and iPod Touch melding the time signatures of your music library and your personal gait. Greg Elliott, creative technologist at Poke, New York developed the app, which couples the devices' accelerometers with beats-per-minute information from music. He's now brought the latest in a series of prototypes to a level that's ready to be beta tested by millions.

The application was previously housed in a custom-built case and called PersonalSoundtrack, a project Elliott undertook while getting his master's degree at Cal Irvine's Arts Computation Engineering program. Elliott was looking at his iPhone when he realized it'd be a much better method of distribution than his handmade housings. "I had to rewrite a lot of stuff, but [it was] rewarding because I could say, 'Hey, check this out, put it on your iPhone and tell me if you like it.'"

Elliott isn't thinking entirely about the business end yet. "This has definitely been a philosophical project for me." His experience creating PersonalSoundtrack plays heavily in his Masters Thesis at UCI, entitled "Exploring the Role of Efficiency Through Device Design" (available online). "I guess I sort of fell into the role of user experience designer because I really do care more about how people interface with stuff than getting the program just right. To me, it's always a concern to make people have a good experience when they're dealing with technology, which is really rare."
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