While Microsoft is touting the wonders of the music sharing features of the new Zune media player, I’m quite familiar with a project in which a team from the MIT Media lab developed a similar wireless music sharing capability a couple of years ago. The team filed a patent application back at the end of 2005 for virtually the exact functionality that Microsoft is planning.
The abstract of the patent documents reads:
Methods and apparatus for providing synchronous playback of the same piece of time-based media on multiple devices connected over heterogenous channels consisting of varying degrees of delay. The preferred embodiment of the invention is a handheld music player that uses a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth communications link to enable users to share music with similar nearby players and to synchronously play back the same music different players simultaneously. Users of all players tuned into one source hear the same thing at the same time, enabling the feeling of a shared music experience. Users can also use their players to exchange profile information and text messages.
Could this spell trouble down the road for Microsoft if this patent is eventually awarded?