- Summer 2020
- Spring 2020
- Yuezhi Zhao, professor and Canada Research Chair, receives Canada's highest academic honour
- SFU students to create solutions for a more sustainable, local textile industry
- In Memoriam: Ker Wells
- Art as education: Kitty Walker shares her love of art with the next generation
- New perspectives and fresh angles: journalist gains international experience in Global Communication MA program
- Graduate takes New Media to new creative levels with Artificial Intelligence
- SFU researchers’ innovative software key to choreographer Merce Cunningham’s dance legacy
- Musical memories refreshed: Olo Radio gives Last FM users a new way to interact with their music-streaming history
- Research excellence celebrated at second annual FCAT Research Awards
- Summer 2019
- Spring 2019
- Fall 2018
- Summer 2018
- Spring 2018
- Fall 2017
- Spring 2017
- Fall 2016
- Summer 2016
- Spring 2016
- Fall 2015
- Summer 2015
- Spring 2015
- Fall 2014
- Summer 2014
- Spring 2014
- Fall 2013
- News archive
- Future students
- Get involved
- Current students
Sound & Music, School of Interactive Arts & Technology
Imagine accessing an archive of all the songs you’ve ever listened to—organized by the time of day, day of the year, or time of your life that you listened to them. With Olo Radio, a device designed by School of Interactive Arts and Technology professor William Odom and collaborator Tijs Duel, you can do just that.
Olo Radio links to a user’s Last.fm account and uses simple metadata, including the time and date a song was played, to organize a personal music archive and make it accessible in a new way. Established in 2002, Last FM now has over 21 million users generating their own listening data, but it remains inaccessible and of little use for most people.
With Olo Radio, Odom is continuing to explore the design philosophy of slow technology—technology used to enhance reflection and mental rest as opposed to pure efficiency. The goal of Olo Radio was to design a piece of technology that better supports people to interact with their massive amounts of personal data in reflective, contemplative and curious ways that change over time.
Odom’s previous project, Olly, is a device that links with a user’s Spotify account. When a song from the past is played, a circular wooden disc on Olly rotates — the slower the rotations, the further in the past the song was from.
“Olo Radio was the next step in developing slow technology projects that people can use to interact with their personal data across time in different ways,” says Odom.
By setting the time mode to “day,” “year,” or “life,” and then choosing a point on that particular timeline by moving the slider on the device, people can access songs they have listened to over the course of their life—whether in the morning, in the summer, or when they first started their Last FM account, for example. While a song is playing, the time mode can also be changed and the slider will move to indicate where that song fits into the other timelines.
“Olo Radio wasn’t designed to replicate the physical music-listening experience digitally, but to be a physical representation of a digital archive that is accessible and lets you reflect on, and explore, music that is bound up in your past,” explains Odom. “It’s a piece of technology that evolves with us as that archive grows.”
During the next phase of this research, Odom worked with his master’s student Minyoung Yoo and collaborators Henry Lin and Tal Amram to create product-like versions of Olo Radio that were installed in people’s homes to understand their experiences with them over time. They custom-designed and made six Olo Radios in Odom’s lab, and five are now being enjoyed in homes in the greater Vancouver area.
“The reaction has been extremely positive,” says Odom. “People have become very attached to their Olo Radio; it’s a source of nostalgia and it provides them with a unique impression of who they are. It represents a living and growing embodiment of the totality of their digital, music- listening history archive.”