It started as a program used for parties.
Something to clearly show what was playing. Every minute it would switch to a screen which displayed the related artist and a short bio. And it worked well. People could easily see what was on and get inspiration for other tracks to add.
The next version saw a new theme for Christmas with snowflakes falling. Every now and again Santa Claus and his herd of reindeer travelled the sky lead by a glowing red nose. After that I decided to use it for a friend’s house warming party which led to this project.
The Projected Now Playing Project
My friend Soraya decided to throw a house warming party. The theme was Chavs, Geeks and Freaks.
We had the idea of re-using the now playing application for the party and projecting it onto a wall. Soraya had a shelving unit where I could a put a projector which faced a wall, and we could use the original dark theme.
The distance from the shelves to the wall made the size of the projection perfect for a party. The text was clear and the pictures looked sharp. To accompany the projection, I made a remote control which sat on the food table. It gave anyone basic music control and the ability to manually change between album art and biographical info.
The projected application was a .Net WPF application which retrieved the current album and artist information from Spotify using a MSN Messenger plugin. MSN Messenger displayed the current track as a status and the plugin saved the status to the registry where the WPF could pick it up.
With the current artist, track and album name, the app got the album art from Google, and queried the Last.fm API to get a biography and related artists list. Most of the time this worked perfectly and got quality data. On some occasions, filters had to be added. At the time, Google image searches for Adele and Amy Winehouse retrieved some tabloid exposé-style photos. For some artists I put a specific check on the name and then manually selected the best photo whenever results were retrieved for certain artists.
The application ran on a tablet PC which also sat on the shelf beneath the projector. It displayed the song queue on Spotify so people could easily add or remove tracks.
The remote control was a .Net Compact Framework application running on Windows Mobile. It opened a socket connection to the application running on the tablet and sent commands directly.
SOMETIMES IT'S HARD TO KNOW WHERE A PROJECT WILL TAKE YOU
This project was a good lesson in building on things. Sometimes it’s hard to know where a project will take you. You start with a goal and when you’ve completed it you realised a whole range of other opportunities are now available.
If I hadn’t completed the first version of the now playing app, it would’ve have been ready for the projected version.
Oh, and always document and take plenty of photos of projects. It’s difficult to showcase them later without.
This project is related to