Qleek - An interesting physical future for digital media
Starting as an Indiegogo campaign over 2 years ago, Qleek is a successfully crowdfunded media player focused on giving your digital media a presence in the physical world. Through a player, NFC connected hexagons called "Qleeks", and a device hooked up to your speakers or TV, you can instantly start playing music from any playlist you have connected.
On the surface this seems pretty simple, and it's very hard to describe what it's like using a Qleek Player. One would think that hooking up a console like a PS4 to play Spotify would be better than this device which requires you to physically change playlists. I would definitely liken the experience of using a Qleek Player to that of sitting down to play a record. Sure, you can hook up your phone to a Bluetooth speaker and play the same music, but there's something different about the deliberate physical act of choosing music and setting it in the player to play. It feels more intimate.
What does it currently do?
Currently Qleek is focused on music with connections to Soundcloud, Spotify, and RSS feeds for things like podcasts. You go through the web UI, set up your Qleeks, the hexagonal discs, with Spotify playlists, choose art work to be printed on the wood and then wait for them to show up in the mail.
As I wasn't sure how all of this would work at first, I opted for generic photos for my Qleeks which I connected to empty playlists in Spotify. After the fact I added songs to which ever playlist I wanted without having a single Qleek's artwork tied to a specific musician. This has worked well so far, though I often forget what's in each playlist. In the future, when I order new Qleeks, I'll ensure they're printed with more relevant artwork so that it's easier to remember which each Qleek is tied to.
So, for now, the Qleek is very focused on music. It's been neat to use so far but I can't wait till more features are added via software. That's the beauty about this device. They've spent their time and resources nailing down the hardware and manufacturing and none of that has to change in the future for more advanced software. They have provided a great foundation for the future of the Qleek player.
My hopes for the future
I feel this is really only the beginning for Qleek. Now that they have the hardware pretty well situated, it's my hope that they really ramp up the software side to bring more services and features to the player.
More types of media
Far back in the crowdfunding campaign they mentioned photo album and video playlist capabilities being supported in Qleek. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before this happens. All the hardware is there to support it with HDMI out to your TV.
I would love to have this for photos to act similar to a traditional photo album. I have many photos that just sit on my computer. Getting them into a slideshow on my TV isn't always the easiest thing to do; not impossible but more of a hassle than I'd like. In my ideal world, I can set up all the photos from a recent trip on a single Qleek and have it at my finger tips should I ever want those photos to rotate on screen.
It would also be great to have a Qleek point to my Youtube favourites, Watch Later playlist, or new subscription videos. As a heavy user of Youtube and their watch later feature, sitting down in front of the TV to play my watch later is a common enough act that it'd make sense to have a dedicated Qleek for it. It'd be awesome to get my Youtube watch later playing as quickly as my Qleek currently starts a Spotify playlist.
Another hope of mine is for the addition of local streaming of media whether that be through DLNA or by connecting to a Plex server. The ability to connect to Plex would be huge as that could be a central repository for all of your music, videos, and photos. Though Spotify has been nice, it would be great to cut out that monthly expense in favour of local media.
If this concept of giving your digital media a physical life interests you, I highly recommend checking Qleek out. This isn't a paid promotion or anything, I just really like the product so far! I look forward to seeing where it goes in the future with regards to software as there's so much potential.
If you have questions about the player or how it works, feel free to leave a comment down below!