Challenge 9: HEX

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Access the curated HEX playlist here.

Counterculture: Underground Dance Music + Repurposed Spaces
The counterculture that we designed for is the underground dance music scene that’s associated with the new trend of repurposing spaces for new experiences. House and electronic music has always been associated with cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, and Brooklyn, but the underground dance music counterculture is indeed prevalent in just about every major urban center. In many post-communist Eastern European cities, such as Tbilisi, Georgia, underground dance music is a way that young people rebel against the strict past and traditions of the older generations and unite and rebel together through dance music.

These events usually happen in unused venues, such as shipping containers and warehouses that are turned into gathering spaces. We plan to use repurposed spaces for pop-up silent dance parties. “The pop-up club is the digital speakeasy, an unmarked venue without a cyber footprint,” says The New York Times.  Possible venues for pop-up dance parties include parking garages, shipping containers, power stations, or under bridges to name a few. The dance parties spread by word-of-mouth text or email lists.  There is no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, website or phone number for the organization of these events.  By keeping the events off-the-grid, they become cooler, more exclusive events, much like the speakeasy of the 21st century.  

Headphone Design
Our headphones are a critical element of our pop-up silent dance parties.  Several design iterations for the headphones were considered, including a style worn around the neck, but ultimately we chose to design them with a traditional headband form factor for maximum movement while dancing.  Users can create customized bands that snap into the earpods for a more personalized experience.  There are many bands to choose from, or users can design their own band.

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A sample response from HEX to a critical change in the user’s vitals. HEX flashes red to indicate to other partygoers that the user needs immediate attention.

Health Tracking
The headphones are also designed to provide health and vitals indicators.  Deaths and hospitalizations from concertgoers has been on the rise in recent years, especially at EDM festivals, where the use of recreational drugs is high.  As a means to help concertgoers stay safe, our headphones have built-in hydration, heart rate, and temperature sensors.  The earpod areas externally light up and display the beat of the music, but when a user’s health enters a dangerous zone, the light indicators will change and begin flashing red, notifying the people around them that this user may need to take a break, rehydrate, or may need medical attention.  Incorporating vitals sensors into the headphones, along with light indicators, will provide a new, safe way for users to experience concerts that preemptively detects any sign of health decline.  

User Experience
People can purchase our headphones through our word-of-mouth marketing and campaigning, receiving an email link to a private website where they can customize their headphones and purchase them.  Once users purchase our headphones, they will be sent invites to any local pop-up dance parties near their location.  Users are notified of the parties only a few hours beforehand, and the parties will take place in repurposed venues.  As people enter the venue, locations services will prompt their headphones to sync up to the concert playlist.  Everyone at the party will hear the same playlist in sync.  Just as at a real concert, where the music is loudest closest to the speakers at the front of the venue, the location services built into the headphones will adjust the loudness of your music based on where you are in the venue, with the loudest point being in the center of the space and softer music towards the edges of the venue.  This sound adjustment feature will create more of a real concert experience for the users.  The reason these pop-up dance parties will silent instead of using real DJs and sets ties into the fact that these are last-minute pop-up parties, so they won’t require artist bookings or set-up time, and the fact that most towns have noise laws, prohibiting parties and loud music past 10 or 11 pm.  By creating a silent dance party, users can still experience the fun of a concert without the typical loud noise, allowing these parties to get by undetected.  

Many people are tired of going to clubs with long lines and steep prices, and are seeking fun alternatives for their concert fix.  By repurposing spaces to host pop-up silent dance parties, we are hoping to fill this gap.  The parties also have a global component, in that numerous parties will be happening at the same time in different geographic areas.  Our events will inspire a cultural revolution by providing opportunities for new party and gathering spaces, and for new ways of experiencing dancing and interacting with others.

Potential Customization:
HEX is both medical device and mode of personal expression, all while syncing the users to their fellow partygoers.

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References
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/30/fashion/pop-up-clubs-in-secret-spaces-party-by-night.html
http://www.clickitticket.com/drug-deaths-at-concerts/
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6350a3.htm

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