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Browsing, listening, interacting, performing, sharing on future HIFI systems

Project description

Networked audiovisual systems and home platforms
New methods for managing and manipulating music

Most of us like to get immersed in our favourite music, but what we mean by that term may be about to undergo a redefinition when the next generation of hard-disk-based hi-fi systems is rolled out.

In the not too distant future listeners will have the option of diving right into the music to find out everything about a particular track, including how it was composed and mixed. And if there is something they do not like about a particular song, or they simply feel like experimenting, they will be able to change the tune.

Empowering the home user

European researchers in the SemanticHiFi project spent three years looking into ways of drastically changing the home user’s relationship to music. They are developing ways of allowing them to interact with music through a new generation of high-fidelity sound systems, offering ways of browsing, interacting, rendering, personalising and editing musical material.

Largely as a result of the research, consumers will also be able to search and react with large-scale on-line music catalogues in ways not previously possible.

In a project that has blurred the traditional limits between playing, performing, remixing and passively listening to music, the researchers have made three major achievements.

Interacting with the music

The first has been to develop the necessary hardware platform, the hi-fi player itself, equipped with a set of advanced features that allows it to use a variety of different access modes and interfaces.

The hi-fi plays the music and also gives listeners the ability to delve into and interact with music stored in different formats such as those used for CDs, DVDs and on-line.

With the shift to buying and playing music on-line, next-generation hi-fi needs to be integrated with the internet and to have its own unique internet protocol (IP) address. The system must have full access to the internet and the music and catalogues stored there, and can also communicate with other hi-fi players on a network.

Not only will listeners be able to interact with, and change, music they have bought, but they will be able to share the changes with friends and colleagues. In turn, they will be able to do their own editing of the music.

But although the project uses peer-to-peer (P2P) technology, intellectual property rights to the music remain protected. Rather than permitting the illegal sharing of musical data, here P2P is employed for sharing other kinds of relevant data, such as metadata, playlists, performing data and messages between peers.

Adding data about data

The second achievement has been the development of authoring-tools software aimed at more advanced users, such as music industry professionals. Running on a separate dedicated computer, this software allows the user to add a variety of information to music files as well as perform more advanced interactive and editing functions.

The software will enable large amounts of metadata – descriptive search information about data – to be added to music files. This information can be anything from individual consumer’s playlists or personal music categories to the score for the music and details of how it was mixed. Users will have access to all of this information.

Thirdly, the researchers have created a metadata-sharing system. The online file-sharing system allows any user with the new hi-fi software to share both their own metadata and any changes they have made to individual music files.

While many of us will no doubt continue to get immersed in music ‘in the old way’, the new technology will enable many others to participate in it much more actively.

In the context of large scale digital music, the goal of the project is to develop a new generation of HIFI systems, offering new functionality for browsing, interacting, rendering, personalizing and editing musical material. This next generation of Hard-disk based HIFI systems will change drastically the relation of home users to music and multimedia content. Users will be able to interact with music up to the point of blurring the traditional limits between playing, performing and remixing. These HIFI systems will be listening stations as much as open instruments. Technically, with IPv6, every HIFI system will have an IP address and systematic use of metadata extraction and exploitation techniques will allow semantic or thematic browsing in large content catalogues over Web and file sharing systems. Converging with the TV, DVD, Game Station and 5.1 set-ups, HIFI systems will also bring 3D audio real-time navigation in the sound scene.The main innovations include a deeper access to the audio content and structure, through state-of-the-art semantic musical metadata extraction and exploitation (partially from MPEG-7): temporal segmentation, polyphonic, melodic, and high-level descriptions like genre, etc. Users will be offered innovative possibilities of manipulation, edition, re-composition, organization, sharing and interactivity with the audio material, and true 3D audio rendering and real time remixing of music.Using music from CDs, consumers will be able to freely exchange metadata information enriching their music and allowing them to listen to remix sessions performed by other users. But with appropriate DRM systems sharing music files is also possible and may even support new profitable music business models for the music industry. Bringing together leading European music research and industry partners, Semantic HIFI will deliver next generation tools for HIFI systems and also as modular PC applications, both validated by musicians and expert users.

Call for proposal

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Activity type
Research Organisations
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Participants (6)