Phones are the most connected devices in our lives, but we consistently underutilize that connectivity. For example, why not use a phone's Wi-Fi radio to receive audio signals from your TV or PC and output those to a connected pair of headphones, untethering it from the source of the music? I've wondered that on more than one occasion, and it turns out I haven't been alone — a company called Blipcast promises to turn wired headphones free with the help of a smartphone app.
Blipcast, the product, is a little box that connects to your TV or computer's audio output and uses your Wi-Fi network to beam sound out to compatible devices (iOS and Android apps are in the works). On the phone end, you just accept the connection and it starts streaming CD-quality (16-bit / 44.1kHz) audio that you can listen to with any headphones hooked up to the mobile device. The company's been founded and operated like a true Kickstarter, self-funded by four friends who are developing the project in their spare time, and the first feedback they've received is that most people interested in the Blipcast want to use it to quieten down noisy family members. The main use cases are apparently for hard-of-hearing parents or to keep kids' shows under acoustic control.
Of course, like any Kickstarter, Blipcast faces a number of significant challenges before it becomes a real thing. Its price of $99 is steep for the basic utility that it provides, and the earliest backers won't receive their units until November 2016. That time will be used to eliminate latency between video on screen and the streamed audio. You have to really believe in the convenience afforded by streaming audio between your devices — which, honestly, should just be an integrated feature of the iOS or Android ecosystems by this point — to buy in on this particular project. Still, the idea is right and the problem the Blipcast solves might not be a big one, but it's certainly common.
Where Blipcast becomes more interesting is in the potential for future development and expansion. If the company reaches its stretch goal, it'll start work on making Blipcast for public spaces — so that you'd be able to selectively tune in to a particular audio stream at your local sports bar showing multiple simultaneous games.
Disclosure: Blipcast co-founder Brandon Goodwin is a friend of Vox Media Engineering Director Dan Chilton, who first notified us of this project's existence.