French startup Prizm hopes to revive interest in dedicated music players for the digital era.

As software continues to “eat the world,” in the words of tech industry luminary Marc Andreessen, dedicated music players have begun to seem like a relic of another era. But French startup Prizm hopes to reverse the trend.

Prizm is currently at CES showing its new music player, which begins shipping in early 2016. The company describes it as an AI-powered device that is “the first music player that senses the current mood in the room, to play music that everyone will love.”

Prizm audio set-up

While we’ve come to think of music streaming apps as our most convenient listening option, using them is actually a fairly involved process, says Prizm cofounder and R&D manager Olivier Roberdet: “Today if I wake up and want to listen to music, I have to get out my phone, enable Bluetooth and launch a music app, connect the phone to the speaker, and then make a choice about what I want to listen to.”

“What we realized is that if you only had to press one button, you would definitely listen to more music,” he continues. “People now want to use purpose-specific devices directly and not go through their phones to access something.”


The pyramid-shaped Prizm also has a simple heart button, so that when listeners hear a song they particularly like, they can tap the device to save it to a playlist, without navigating to a music app and potentially getting lost in a Facebook feed along the way. “It’s personal curation done completely passively,” says Roberdet.

The return of the dedicated music device may not be far-fetched, and in fact, it’s already happening: Amazon recently announced that a vinyl turntable outsold all other home audio products over Christmas 2015. The Prizm could appeal to those who want a dedicated audio player, without sacrificing the conveniences of digital technology.

Check back this week for ongoing coverage of CES 2016.

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