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Audio Controls For Internet Browser Tabs

Chrome Firefix Audio Controls Autoplay Stopping Browser Tab Buttons Audio

UPDATE (Feb 11/2014): Looks like Chrome now has this feature. Not sure about other browsers though. Original post as follows:

It happens to everyone. You’re surfing the web and you have several pages open when SUDDENLY a loud autoplay ad starts up; it’s invasive and you’re scrambling to find it and shut it down. Another scenario is when you accidentally hover over an ad and you are bombarded with sound, and you cannot mute or lower the volume. Drives me crazy.

I propose that all browsers incorporate a feature that will detect audio in each page and allow Users the ability to shut it off. How it would work:

When you have a page open and audio is detected this icon appears in the page’s tab:

Chrome Firefix Audio Controls Autoplay Stopping Browser Tab Buttons Audio

You then click on it to mute, simple as that (see 1. in the image above). This would mute all audio coming from the offending page.

Perfect for autoplay ads, audio ads you accidentally trigger, pages with ambient audio, or times you need a quick mute for YouTube or Soundcloud.

To take it a step further you could include play/pause and volume controls in the tab as well, should you need to pause playback or adjust the volume on the fly (see 2. in image above). For sites with playlists the skip forward and back buttons could also be added.

Here’s hoping the overlords at Firefox, Chrome, IE, Safari, etc. decide to incorporate something like this in their browsers going forward.

NOTE: When the audio is no longer detected the audio icon would disappear, so you could wait out an autoplay ad prior to playing a video or audio clip in the same page. Starting a video or audio clip would override an active mute setting. However it would be nice if the browser was able to smartly isolate different audio sources, killing unwanted audio ads and permitting what the User wants (like a Youtube video).

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Docks For Car Stereo Faceplates

Car Stereo Dock for the home

This is an idea that crossed my mind a long time ago when I was lugging around a faceplate for my car stereo: I often wanted a stereo in my home that I can attach my faceplate to for everyday use. The main reason was that I really liked a lot of functionality my car deck had*. Also I felt the faceplate could be put to better use when not in the car.

Besides making the faceplate more versatile, I felt such a device had a strong ‘cool’ factor. Car stereo decks are very ‘showy’ in appearance, with their colorful displays (that often employed a music visualizer), and illuminated knobs/buttons. So the thought of enlisting the faceplate for a stereo on my desk or bookshelf was very appealing.

Car Stereo Dock for the home

 

The design above is pretty modest (the faceplate is from a Spy Hunter design from way back), and takes a few familiar cues from cars, like a push-button ignition acting as a power button. Note: this design forgoes a CD player.

There is a lot of potential for devices in the home that can be home to a car faceplate. How about an attachment to the front of a PC tower (like a DVD drive)? Or an alarm clock? Obviously this is nothing new for those who use iOS device docks, or for SiriusXM customers who regularly move their satellite radio module from the car to a stereo in the house and back. As far as car stereo faceplates go, this is uncharted territory**.

Note: Currently this couldn’t be done in a universal fashion, because of all the different makes and models out there. One possibility are these docks being packaged with their respective faceplates in a bundle.

*I’m probably the only person on the planet who is annoyed by this, but why can’t home stereos have some of the neat functionality car stereos do? I’m talking about being able to auto-seek for radio stations with the push of a button, or adjusting audio distribution between all the speakers  — stuff like that. Car stereos seem to do a lot more in a smaller, more intuitive package.

**Not counting the in-store displays for car stereos!

K.I.T.T. Car Stereo Deck

K.I.T.T. Knight Rider Car Stereo Deck Alpine Dave Delisle davesgeekyideas.com

Every once in awhile I’ll post a design that strikes me as a no-brainer, like this or this. I’m very surprised there hasn’t been any K.I.T.T. car stereo decks made commercially or as fanmade/homebrew projects even.

This design would be encapsulating the K.I.T.T. dashboard into a stereo deck which would feature its namesake as a music visualizer – pretty straightforward. Originally I had a normal volume dial, but for fun I used the steering wheel instead, something that wouldn’t be too practical for an actual stereo deck.

Just like the last stereo deck I designed, this design discards the CD slot on the front, so if you want to load a disc the face will have to flip down (if CD capability were included to begin with).

One touch I’d like to include are voice greetings from K.I.T.T. when powering on and off the stereo (“Hello, Michael.”), and the Knight Rider theme on command.

Spy Hunter Car Stereo Deck

Arcade Cabinet Stereo Deck Spy Hunter Icons Logos Dave Delisle 2012 davesgeekyideas

I thought I’d address the complete lack of geeky car stereo decks with this Spy Hunter design. For the most part it would be your standard stereo, save for a neat cosmetic touch: the back-lit weapons dash that adorned the original arcade cabinet.

These five icons would randomly illuminate (at a slow non-distracting rate) for a bit of a light show. Other touches include 3 buttons found on the steering wheel of the arcade cabinet: the ‘Source’ button disguised as the Weapons Van button, and the play/stop buttons use the same red push-buttons used to fire weapons.

Not only would this deck help recreate the feel of playing the arcade game while behind the wheel of your car, but also grant you delusions of being a badass spy (even if you’re driving a station wagon).

Notes:

You can check out the arcade cabinet in-depth here. This design was based on this Alpine model. The icons would not allow for a CD slot on the face, so if you want CD functionality you would need to pop the face down to load discs. I suppose you could program this sucker to play the Peter Gun Theme upon start-up. Sound effects from the game could be enlisted for button presses.

Spy Hunter Logos Arcade Cabinet 2012 Dave Delisle davesgeekyideas.com

USB Music Visualizer

USB Music Visualizer

Long story short, this design was a visualizer that intercepted any audio feed and provided a light show. It sat on your desk or entertainment unit.

This design was submitted to Thinkgeek, and was rejected.

Smart Headset Stand

Headphone Cradle Speaker 2012 Dave Delisle

Apologies if this idea does exist. I can’t seem to find anything like this, so feel free to let me know The Simpsons did it.

Basically this is a headset stand with a built-in speaker. It can smartly switch between the headset and the speaker(s) for the audio, because there is a button in the ‘cradle’ where the headset is placed when not in use.

So if you’re listening to your headset and you’re interrupted by someone who wants to gab (they always wait until you put your headset on – this is a fact), you can place the headset on the stand and the music automatically emits from the speaker. Remove the headset, and the speakers mute and your headset carries the audio feed exclusively.

So not only is it a handy place to park your headset, this automatic functionality helps avoid those involuntary lapses of silence*.

There are plenty of cool-looking headset stands available, but prime desk real estate  demands more functionality from such an item, in my opinion.

You could also set it to power-off your audio system when you place the headset in the cradle. This could double as a charging station for a wireless headset, can include an iPod dock, USB hub, electric can opener, etc. I just wanted to address this one feature.

*That never-ending cycle when you turn off your music for some interruption, then resume working only to realize a few hours later it is quiet and then you turn the music back on. Admit it, you do this 3 or 4 times a day.

Geeky Media Centers Part 1: Theater Marquee

 

Themed Media Players

As I much as I enjoy designing Blu-Ray cases, the reality is physical media is on its last legs. Soon everyone will have a Media Center beside (or within) their TVs that will contain all their movies, TV shows, books, and music.

Currently PVRs, TiVos, and Web Media Centers (like Boxee and Apple TV) are becoming more and more commonplace. And while these are all well and good, I believe a new trend will succeed them in the not-too-distant future: Designer Media Centers.

These Designer models would be available in a wide range of styles to reflect many different personal tastes, and packed to the brim with bells and whistles. They will become the centerpiece of the entertainment center, possibly the entire household. In many ways, this will be like placing a jukebox in every living room – a showy piece of hardware that contains all of your media.

I base this prediction on this: currently people surround themselves with physical media, usually arranged in a proud display. Books, music, video games, and films help define our individuality. We like to see our personal tastes and lifestyle manifest in all this media. It says who we are and what we love – both past and present. Simply put – we like to show-off our physical media.

So with physical media on the decline, it will eventually fall on the Media Center to make a personal statement about who we are and what we like. And because we like so many different things, these Designer Media Centers will be grandiose in their appearance and operation.  Make no mistake, they will be expensive – a carefully measured investment for many – but they will cost nowhere near as much as assembling large libraries of physical media as we do now. Somewhere along the lines of buying two game consoles, methinks.

A few examples of Designer Media Centers: a Harryhausen fan will buy a Media Center that is adorned with several sculptures reenacting a scene from Jason and the Argonauts. A Disney fan will grab a Media Center in the shape of the Cinderella castle from Disneyland. A U2 fan will grab a Media Center that looks like one of their tour stages, with the band included (lights and pyrotechnics as well -maybe).

The logistics of these DMC’s could take the form of many scenarios: they could be aligned to a few platforms (Google TV, Windows TV), could have upgradeable/interchangeable hardware, or the external cases could be partitioned from the hardware – meaning you buy the media center and the designer exterior case separately.

I will be designing many geeky/fancy Media Centers going forward. How about I finally talk about the one shown above?

This Media Center is for film buffs, and is a small scale movie theater. As you can see it features a detailed marquee with many LED lights. The sign board is customizable, and there are few poster frames to place your favorite movie posters (you print them out yourself). It could also feature swiveling spot lights for a more authentic look. The light show is entirely on-demand.

This would go nicely with this IKEA entertainment unit I designed. If you like this concept check out this Talisman media center from a while back.

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