Karaoke iPod and iPhone as an ultimate Karaoke machine
Apple keeps innovating around the iPod and adding new interesting ways to use it. We already have traditional iPod with tons of storage, small and sleek iPod Nano and wireless iPod aka iPhone. Now the new Apple’s patent reveals another interesting iteration – Karaoke iPod or even iPhone as a replacement for Karaoke machine.
The patent application, called Dynamic lyrics display for portable media devices, is nothing special. I actually doubt that the application will result in actual patent. It describes various ways to sync audio of the song and text lyrics and the ways of displaying the right highlighted lyrics at the right time. But all of that is already known and practiced in traditional Karaoke machines and Karaoke programs on PC. The only new thing here is that all of it is done on a portable music player. But since portable mp3 player already is a small computer, what’s really new about getting Karaoke function on it? And doesn’t Asus already have a portable Karaoke player/phone?
What is interesting are the hints provided in patent application about how Apple can leverage the media ecosystem it is creating to make personal Karaoke experience much better.
The are two things that makes Karaoke enabled songs different from the normal songs you have on PC:
- the lyrics of the song have to be sync’ ed with audio, so the right words are shown/highlighted at the right time.
- in order to have a good Karaoke experience you have to have the singers voice muted from the rest of the song and/or replaced with instrumental line. When you sing “My heart will go on” you don’t really want to compete with Celine Dion, do you?
Of course, you can overcome these problems if you are really determined. There’s probably the lyrics text for every song out there on the Net. There are programs that help you sync text file to the song audio. And there are some sound editing programs that can help you mute separate audio channels (including singers voice) or convert mp3 or WAV file into midi for Karaoke use.
But have you tried to actually do it? I did. And I know it’s a nightmare. But Apple has the means to make personal Karaoke experience into a seamless one.
If you are already getting music to your iPod from iTunes store, you may not even notice it. For additional small charge, Apple may provide an option e.g. “Karaoke enabled” to any song you download. Everything else can be done behind the scenes.
Just add the lyrics text file with special markers with every downloaded song. Modify iPod software to understand these markers, sync the audio and text and then display text on an iPod screen. The big part of personal Karaoke puzzle is solved right there. The ways to do that are described in patent application.
The missing part is how to get the audio part right so the original singers voice does not interfere with your singing. But there are numerous ways to do that and I’m sure Apple can think of something. We may see another patent application doing just that soon.
So here you have it. Karaoke iPod.
And in the future as data processing speeds and wireless data transfer rates catch up, it may be even better. Your iPhone can become the ultimate Karaoke machine. Just load your Karaoke enabled songs collection to your Karaoke iPhone and take it with you.
The content (Karaoke songs with text) from your Karaoke iPhone could be streamed directly to Apple media server connected to a big TV and speakers. And iPhone already has a microphone and real time voice streaming (aka phone calls) capability for your voice input.
So you can gather at your friends house with the new Apple Media center for a Karaoke party, wait for your turn, select a song from your Karaoke enabled songs collection and start singing into your Karaoke iPhone.
A dream and wishful thinking? You bet. But I don’t really see anything that could make such a personal Karaoke nirvana technically impossible in a few years. And Apple may just be the company that has enough clout and technical means to do it.