Cone Speaker Tries to Predict What You Want to Hear

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From the archive Geoffry A Fowler writes: Aether's New Speaker Listens to You, But Can It Get in Your Head?

I'm in a relationship with a speaker.

Ordinary sound systems just play music. This speaker listens to me. It chooses what to play based on what it thinks might fit my taste or mood, streaming NPR at 7 a.m. or dentist-office soft rock on a Tuesday afternoon.

When I want to hear Rihanna, I just lean over to the speaker and say, "play Rihanna." Presto: "Umbrella."

My robot DJ is the Aether Cone, an ambitious reimagining of the speaker. It pushes audio gear toward a new frontier that combines stylish hardware, Internet streaming and artificial intelligence. Cone, due to ship later in June, still has too many rough edges to be the successor to the iPod. But it does have many of the necessary elements.

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