The other day, I caught up with an old friend that now works in the movie business. He was always a bit of a tech guy, but it still surprised me when he pulled out an ipod shuffle as we drove to brunch in his car. Then I noticed how he used it. It was hooked to a cassette adapter in his stereo, but he held it like a wired remote control, controlling volume and next/previous tracks while he drove, never letting go of (or having to look down at) the shuffle.
I've had a shuffle for a couple weeks and I hadn't thought to use the device in that way. For him, it was both a controller/UI and the actual music player. There seems like limitless possible other ways you could use a shuffle that no products exist for quite yet, so someone create these:
- create a bluetooth adapter that plugs into the headphone jack and transmits audio to a cassette adapter with bluetooth. Then you could just velcro the shuffle to your steering wheel or gear shift and change tracks that way. Also, a call on your bluetooth cellphone could mute/pause the player.
- create a usb slot in aftermarket car stereos to act as a dock. You could use the stereo's display as the shuffle's non-existant display and charge it at the same time. Also, add USB/dock functionality to factory stereos so owners can use their existing steering wheel stereo controls. If really want to do something cool, also add a hard drive to car stereos with shuffle docks. Then I could just add 1Gb of my music collection each time I dock it. Eventually, I could fill a 20, 40, or 80Gb hard drive that way.
- put a camera into the shuffle. I'm surprised it didn't come with a tiny 640x480 cameraphone-style attachment for the usb end, and I'm surprised no one has offered one for sale yet.
- Go higher capacity with the shuffle. I suspect in 2 or 3 years we'll laugh at the dinky 1Gb shuffles, as we pop our 8, 20, and 40Gb shuffles into our car stereos like cartridges.
I also went running with my new shuffle for the first time and was amazed by how small and light it was. I put on my earbuds, slid the shuffle under my shirt, dropped it into the back pocket of my running tights and I couldn't even feel it. Stashing my keys is a bigger problem while running than a shuffle -- that's how compact and light it is.
I've tested myself running with and without music and I tend to run farther and faster and I feel better afterwards with it, so my shuffle will be going along with me on every run. I might just velcro a house key to the back of it and kill two birds with one stone.