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Rocki wants to build the next generation of wireless speaker networks

Rocki wants to build the next generation of wireless speaker networks

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Most wireless speakers run off Bluetooth, but a new Kickstarted hardware project is looking to change that, opening up new software tricks along the way. It's called Rocki, an external widget that lets you run your wireless speakers off of a Wi-Fi network, allowing for a larger and more versatile network than Bluetooth can offer. The device plugs into any speaker with a line-in jack, and receives its signal from a smartphone app, allowing for anything from an old-school receiver to cheap laptop blasters to get in on the action.

A larger and more versatile network than Bluetooth

The company finished off a successful Kickstarter run last year, but this is the first time the finished hardware is seeing the light of day. The widget itself is a tiny rubber and plastic module designed not to add too much bulk to the speaker it's attached to, planned to retail at $49.

The music comes from streaming partners like Spotify, Deezer, and Google Play, which have all signed deals with the service. Piping the music through the Rocki app and network allows for some surprisingly complicated maneuvers: Friends can use their Rocki apps to build collaborative playlists and let the music follow them from room to room. More importantly, the software in the app uses an algorithm to ensure all the speakers play in sync, avoiding the glitchy synchronization problems that would otherwise emerge from asymmetries in the Wi-Fi signal.

On the business side, the Rocki team arrived at CES with a new chip-only model, dubbed Rocki Inside, which they hope speaker manufacturers will start building into their latest models. If it takes off, it would enable Rocki functionality out of the box. The team hasn't announced any deals yet, but they certainly came to the right place to make them.