If you haven’t heard (probably not likely), Apple announced a number of upgrades to its iPod/iTunes product line today. It is interesting to me because I see more and more Music Information Retrieval making it into consumer products. Genius added smart playlisting a year or two ago (though from the reviews it doesn’t perform too well). And just today, the new ipod nano with a built-in FM reciever allows you to mark a song that is currently playing on the radio and iTunes will identify that song for you the next time you sync.
Granted, this musical audio fingerprinting is one of the oldest forms of Music Information Retrieval out there. Fraunhofer had a working version at ISMIR 2000, nine years ago, and Avery Wang (the fellow behind Shazam) had also finished an implementation around that time. Countless implementations have been done by numerous companies since then. Apple isn’t even doing the “hard” version of the problem, i.e. in a crowded, noisy bar with lots of audio interference. They’re instead using the pure radio signal. This new Nano has a built-in microphone; you’d think that they’d take advantage of that do the noisy pub song ID thing, too. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see more Music IR work being integrated into consumer products.
If you’re interested in research on creating better playlists, and doing all sorts of interesting search and exploration of music information, check out this year’s ISMIR in Kobe, Japan. It will be the 10th one. Amazing!