Razer mixes music, social networking

Dubbed Jook, the product uses a wireless chip to share music and connect individuals regardless of the type of device. Products are expected in the market by year-end.

By end-2008, a chip embedded in headphones or music players will allow people to share their music with others real-time on the go, regardless of the device they use.

Razer announced Tuesday a new wireless technology called Jook, which the company said will meld the two emerging worlds of music and social networking. The product will be marketed under Jook, a subsidiary of Razer which manufactures games peripherals.

Razer CEO Tan Min-Liang told ZDNet Asia Monday that, more than just a platform-agnostic technology that provides music-sharing capabilities, Jook is also a social networking tool.

Through the technology, listeners can view the "broadcaster's" music profiles including information such as his personal Web site or music preferences. They can also rate the songs or playlists of the source, or the Jook user who is sharing his music.

"Jook takes the attention away from the music player itself, focusing instead on the people," said Tan, also the president and CEO of Jook, in a phone interview. "It combines three of the biggest things in the market today--consumer electronics, social networking and music."

A Jook device incorporates three different modes:

  • me, which allows only the user to listen to his own songs;
  • us, which enables the user to broadcast his music and allow others in the vicinity to listen to his playlist; and
  • u, which allows the user to scan the area and tune into other music devices that are in "us" mode.

The Jook protocol is encrypted and runs on a 2.4Ghz wireless signal with a connectivity of about 10 yards, or some 9.1 meters. The chip can also store user data, such as song titles the user had listened and at what time the song had played.

Tan said a "major consumer electronics company" has already expressed interest in embedding the technology into its products, but noted that Jook's launch partners will only be announced later this year.

Jook-enabled devices, which can include mobile phones, will likely be available in the North America market by the end of 2008, with an Asian launch to follow soon after, he said.

The company will provide the wireless chips and reference design, but it is "entirely up to the manufacturer [to decide] how they want to enable it", said Tan. For example, instead of embedding the chip in music players and headphones, hardware manufacturers can produce a standalone version that plugs into the music players.

Manufacturers and developers of music devices and audio accessories will have to adhere to, and incorporate the standard play modes and their corresponding color code into their products, Tan said.