Tastes in music are such a subjective thing that it’s practically impossible to keep everyone in a crowded environment like a pub or coffee shop happy with the tune selection. Developed by the Mobile Radicals group at the UK’s Lancaster University, the CheckinDJ digital jukebox aims to keep the majority of people happy by using near field communication (NFC) and social networking to poll everyone’s musical tastes.

The CheckinDJ system requires users to check in with their social networking identity that is linked to an NFC tag, like those finding their way into more and more smartphones. However, this system has been tested with university library cards and plastic cups embedded with NFC tags.

To check in, users tap their NFC-enabled device to the Raspberry Pi-powered digital jukebox and select three musical genres. CheckinDJ then collates the preferences of all users present to generate a crowd-curated playlist in the genre favored by the majority of people. Greater weight is given to individuals based on the number of social networking accounts they link to the system and the number of connected friends that are also checked in.

Tracks are streamed from Spotify with the system updating musical preferences every 20 seconds to keep track of changes to the group. A limit is also placed on the amount of times a person can check in to prevent individuals from unfairly influencing the playlist selection.

“It gets people talking because it only crowd sources the musical genre, not an particular track, so you don’t know exactly what music will be on next,” said Dr Paul Coulton of ImaginationLancaster. “It depends on how many people like a particular genre so the music chosen will reflect the majority musical taste of wherever you happen to be.”

The video below shows the CheckinDJ system in action.

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