Our Innovation Researcher Martin Reid has received a long-awaited package from a promising startup in the US. Qleek – covered by GDR in our Global Innovation Report a few years ago before its fundraising campaign – is hoping to change the way we use and interact with our digital media forever.
Qleek is a home device that makes the acts of sharing and playing digital media a real-world experience. As we have replaced DVDs and CDs with personalised subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify, we have lost the rituals associated with collecting, handling and sharing music and photos. Although digitisation has made our lives more convenient, clicking to access our favourite files and navigating on screens isn’t exactly a shareable, human experience.
This is where Qleek comes in.
Qleek incarnates personalised digital media, such as a Spotify playlist or a photo album, into stylish wooden tiles. A tile is placed on a central player that syncs to deliver that content straight to a speaker or television. In other words, the tiles act as physical shortcuts to deliver digital content.
“Fiddling with a song, a video or a photo album in a living room is different from launching an app, scrolling lists or searching artists. When you’re in front of a screen, you’re isolated from what and who surrounds you,” Ismail Salhi, one of the creators of Qleek, tells GDR. “We believe there is a real value in creating rituals and embodying the digital library as a whole. Physical sharing and collecting is a way for people to cut through the noise and have in plain sight what they love.”
On Qleek’s website, qleek.me, users link their Spotify or Soundcloud account to their Qleek account, and select which playlists they wish to turn into a tile. This tile can then be personalised online, where the user can upload and reposition a photo of their choice. At present, Qleek has launched with the capacity to turn Spotify or Soundcloud playlists, podcasts and albums into tiles, with photo albums and videos expected to be finalised in the near future.
What’s great about the tiles is that their content is not fixed. If a user adds or removes songs from their online playlists after receiving their Qleek player, the tiles can update to match any changes made online. This means that users can use branded playlists, such as BBC Radio 1’s Spotify playlist, and know that the content will change every week.
With the rise of the Internet of Things and objects becoming digitally enhanced, customers are reconsidering the boundaries between online and offline. Qleek is bridging the gap between physical and digital, giving digital media a tactility and intimacy that customers can get to grips with. Furthermore, having brought Qleek to use in the GDR London office, it offers a useful way of quickly sticking on some preset music without fussing or fighting for control over which radio station to play!