You’re with friends and want to play music. Nobody has a speaker, but everyone has phones. Do you:
(a) Put one phone in a bowl because maybe that amplifies sound sorta kinda?
(b) Try to hit “play” on multiple phones at the same time, hoping it’ll all sound in sync (but it won't)?
or (c) Just play the song on a single phone, and shush everyone so you can hear it?
Never mind! There's now an actual solution: An app called AmpMe just launched, and its purpose is simple and beautiful. It syncs the audio on an unlimited number of devices, so that a group of phones can become one big, disparate speaker system.
Here’s how simple this is:
Step 1: Host a party.
Open the app, and click “host a party.” That makes you the person who controls the music. Then you pick what music you want to hear, and it starts playing. Currently the only music available is through Soundcloud, but the company says two or three more platforms will be introduced within the next six months, with even more to come.
Step 2: Connect other phones.
If someone wants to sync up, they simply open AmpMe on their phones and select “Join a Party.” They’ll enter a code, and then hold their phone near yours. Your phone will make a high-pitched beep—what the company calls a “high frequency fingerprint”—that the other phones will hear, and use to sync up.
We’ve seen it in action, here at the Maxim office. It’s a pretty seamless process; connecting one phone to another takes maybe 20 seconds, start to finish. We connected about six devices—iPhones, Androids, tablets—and placed them around a conference room. It was definitely loud enough to throw a party.
What’s up with that beep? AmpMe’s creator, serial entrepreneur Martin-Luc Archambault, says he had no other choice. He couldn’t use Bluetooth: It limited the number of devices that would sync, and Android and iPhone couldn't talk to each other. Then he tried using a shared wifi network, but found it too difficult to connect to. That’s why he developed the high-frequency signal, which contains digital instructions that other devices—including Bluetooth speakers, so long as they have microphones—simply hear and follow.
Once everyone's sync'd up, the host can rock the DJ booth indefinitely. Anything the host plays, all the other phones will too.
In his hometown of Montreal, Archambault is known for being one of the hosts of Dans l'œil du Dragon, or Dragon’s Den, a French Canadian version of Shark Tank. He’s been building and selling tech companies for 15 years. But he doesn’t have any immediate plans to monetize AmpMe. There’s no advertising in it, and nothing to buy. The app is free. “Don’t just think about making money,” he says, summarizing his philosophy. “Think about making something cool.” First, he wants millions of people to start partying with AmpMe—and then he’ll figure out how to cash in.
Here's the app's launch video:
Photos by WIN-Initiative / Getty Images