Just about every part of the average smartphone has gradually improved over the past few years, including the processors, cameras and displays. But you’d be hard-pressed to find speakers in a smartphone worth listening to for an extended period of time. AmpMe’s goal is to change that, not by putting better speakers into smartphones, but by turning smartphones into better speakers.
Created by entrepreneur and panel member on Dragon’s Den (the Canadian version of Shark Tank) Martin-Luc Archambault, AmpMe is an app that allows multiple smartphones in the same area to sync up and create a unified sound. The result is a perfectly harmonious, exponentially more powerful speaker system made up entirely of mobile devices.
Archambault told the Daily Dot that the idea came to him after helping a friend move and wanting to listen to music but not having a system set up to do it. After trying the simple hacks of using an empty cup to amplify the sound, and even trying to manually get two devices to play a song at the same time, Archambault decided a better solution was needed.
Months of trial and error and “a lot of money” later, AmpMe was born. The system he’s built doesn’t require Wi-Fi or Bluetooth synchronization like one would expect, but instead it transmits a high-frequency signal that is inaudible to human ears. The phones can hear it loud and clear, though, and use it to ensure they are all playing the song simultaneously.
A host device controls the signal and has determines what is played. AmpMe is compatible with SoundCloud music and Songza playlists, as well as files on the device. Spotify and Apple Music integration are still on the way, but their absence represents the biggest black mark in AmpMe’s otherwise impressive offering.
The proprietary audio fingerprinting technology created by Archambault works as advertised. In a booth at CES, AmpMe showed off just how powerful the sound could be when the forces of smartphone speakers are combined. Stepping into the sound box the company set up to block out the noise from the convention center show floor felt like walking into the front door at a house party, and that was with six devices (albeit in close proximity of one another).
“We’ve had up to 50 devices playing at once,” Archambault said. In theory, that figure has no cap on it. As long as there is a device in range that can hear the tone, that gadget can play its role in the crowdsourced super speaker.
Once the devices are synced, users are free to roam about the party. The music will keep playing, perfectly in step with every other phone, so even if you step away from a minute your device continues to keep beat. It will even drop to the background if you have to take a call, then immediately pick back up in sync when the call ends.
Available for iOS and Android devices, AmpMe has already racked up over one million downloads since debuting just three months ago. If you put all of the people who downloaded the app in one room, they’d make for one hell of a speaker system.
Photo by AJ Dellinger