CompetitiveAnalysis-ConorMcLaughlin

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Contents

Reinstatement of Idea

iGroup Group Proposal

A mobile iPhone/iPod Touch application that enables dancers and choreographers to mark, mix, and control the tempo of the music tracks used for their respective dances.

Research Applications

Ballroom Dance Channel – Tango, Samba, Rumba, Waltz, and Salsa

Ballroom Dance App

The application is targeted at beginning ballroom dancers who wish to learn a new dance or take a cheap lesson wherever they may be at the time. Someone who wishes to learn the waltz for their wedding dance would fall in this category. Our application, on the other hand, targets both experts and beginners of all styles of dance while focusing on the relationship between music and dance.

Application offers interactive video for a user to slowly and visually learn the steps to the dance. Makes some use of the mobility of the iPhone by allowing you to hold it away from your body to simulate the effect of holding a partner. Execution seems incredibly basic, however, like watching an instructional video on your iPhone. If the project does not overstep Apple’s SDK EULA, we hope to separate the music track and video as distributable packages, but that’s the only relevant and competing feature with our music marking and editing software.

It succeeds at giving the user the opportunity to refer and practice dance steps while away from a computer, but other than that it seems to be just a distribution platform for a youtube video. Poor spelling in some of the explanations, and there doesn’t seem to be an ability to slow down the video or interact with the music, which would both be points upon which we can improve for the only relevant aspect.

VC Audio Pro

VC Audio Pro

Professional broadcasters and journalists who are constantly out in the field and do not have time to get back a computer. We are specifically targeting dancers, so there is no overlap there, but the ability to cut and rearrange audio reflects similar needs in our target users.

Users can record, edit multiple tracks, and rearrange splices with the option to customize with tools like a volume curve, sound mixer, and normalization. The scope of the functions offered is actually quite extensive, but where we would differentiate would be the organization of tracks. Once a track has been fully spliced together in this application, it is one intractable unit, but if a user wanted to mark music as they were editing, our application would hold onto that information.

It seems very useful for a broadcaster, or anyone for that matter, who wishes to edit audio out in the field. But despite all of its technical capabilities, we can improve by simply focusing on exactly what dancers need to do in mixing; this would mean simplifying the representation of an audio segment instead of showing the actual decibel representation. VC Audio Pro just suffers from a lack of coherent organization and aesthetic flair, which is one of the main challenges in designing a user interface for something as technical as music editing and marking. We need to simplify to the bare essential tasks and not over complicate.

Pocket Remix

Pocket Remix

Amateur to expert music producers and editors who wish to graphically compose music without the physical constraints of sitting at a computer. The simplicity of its UI actually overlaps with the expected music editing ability of our choreographing target audience, but otherwise the technical intricacy of some of the functions is outside the scope of dancers.

Pocket remix has a library of free instrument recordings that one can mix and match along a timeline to create a custom and unique track. Besides mixing and matching the given library though, there isn’t much room for customizing the volume of specific tracks and bars. Our application plans to do something similar in the concept of a timeline where one can overlay or add in new tracks, but we will improve upon it by offering more customization in the tempo and sound control.

It is essentially Garage Band Lite for the iPhone, and within it respective scope, it does very well. End users were mostly pleased with the results, but it suffers slightly from not having a concrete reason for being mobile besides the novelty of it. We have avoided this pitfall by focusing on definitive tasks that could use a mobile solution. One could do the remixing of Pocket Remix at home or on their laptop with far greater ability.

Gratis

Gratis

The application is targeted at beginning Salsa dancers who wish to learn to salsa or practice wherever they may be at the time. Our application, on the other hand, targets both experts and beginners of all styles of dance while focusing on the relationship between music and dance.

Application offers every perspective one would wish to view in order to learn the salsa. This includes views from the man’s, woman’s, and feet (this can all be viewed simultaneously with an included count). It also allows one to slow down the instructional video and check one’s posture. We would compete by having similar features for the distributable package (if one wants to include multiple videos for multiple views they can) while also allowing one all the control over marking, mixing and tempo.

This application is actually very clean and executes its focused scope in competent fashion. Being able to hold the phone away from oneself, like one is holding a partner, while being able to see the dance from multiple perspectives would make learning a dance much easier than having to turn back to a laptop repeatedly. Integrating the slow motion features with the video and music itself will also make it less cumbersome to go back and forth between the main menu while maintaining your current point in the instructional video.

Four Track

Four Track

Music Editing Enthusiasts, whether they be professional or amateur, who wish to record and splice tracks in a more relaxed session, one where they do not need professional recording hardware or access to a computer. We are targeting dancers who participate in music editing in order to express themselves through dance, they do not need as advanced music editing functionality as this other target group.

Four Track can easily move tracks to anywhere in a timeline while offering 16 bit recording quality. One can also set the tempo by either specifying a number or tapping along with many other features to tune and play with the qualities of a song; once one is done with their mix, they can upload it to a computer through wi-fi. We plan to improve upon their design by actually simplifying and cutting down to the bare essentials a dancer needs. Your standard dancer does not want to record their own song, they want to dance to those already out there. The ability to set a tempo by tapping is something we can also improve upon by letting them edit the tempo after the original specification, uploading our dance packages by wi-fi would also be available.

It’s successful in idea and coverage of music editing, but software crashes and the inability to delete a track holds it back. One can only rerecord over a track and often other tracks distort after another one is spliced in. In terms of music recording and tuning, it is apparently widely successful, but we are competing with music splicing. A more simplistic UI with more emphasis on the touch abilities of the iPhone would make it more approachable then just replicating the complicated front of a stereo.

Band creates an actual song using Four Track: [1]

Looptastic Electro

Looptastic Electro

Music editing enthusiasts who are interested in creating new beats and mixes of the house music genre, this can include disc jockeys, producers, or simply people interested in music production. Our group is targeting specifically dancers and choreographers, so our application looks to make use of the mobility of dancers versus just porting a music editor to the iPhone.

Tempo control and cross fader allow one to control the volume, including fall off of that volume, and speed of a mix of loops and beats a producer has spliced together; one can also store and delete the tracks one has created, including exportation. The tempo control and ability to affect volume from track to track will be much more visual in our application as the modifications will provide feedback during the actual track playing. We will also give the user the ability to designate certain sections to certain tempos, versus just compiling one entire mp3 for export.

This is a very well-done application that was actually put up as a staff-favorite by Apple. It’s music editing user interface makes full use of landscape view and the touch interface, allowing one a nice visual way to modify their music. However, this is a case where the metaphor was extended a little too far, and with things such as music you can only drag your icon to bigger regions to make it louder, with no real idea as to how much louder you’re making it besides through play back. Our application will include a visual element, but it will also give the user the opportunity to look at the actual volume levels in comparison with other parts of the song.

Dance Me

Dance Me

Japanese end users who want to create their own new dance move. We are targeting people who physically dance and choreograph to specific music. There is very little overlap other than marketability. A user can use any object within the application’s database, whether it be a picture or icon, and then specify control points and specific regions to execute certain movements, or equivalently create a dance move.

It seems to have very little functionality beyond this gimmicky scope. We wish to help dancers cut down on their practice time by making music editing and repetitive music looping easy to deal with; our business is not with making new dance moves.

For what it does and its use of the touch interface, it is very simple and very clean. However, beyond the novelty of making whatever object you see dance, it does not offer much usability. We wish to create an application that a user will return to again and again in their dancing. This is essentially an application that emphasizes the importance of making our application’s uniqueness and intentions clear.

Youtube clip of the application making things dance! Dance Me video

Waltz Basics

Waltz Basics

The application is targeted at beginning Waltz dancers who wish to learn the waltz for something like a wedding wherever they are at the time. Our application, once again, targets both experts and beginners of all styles of dance while focusing on the relationship between music and dance.

Application allows a user to view the Waltz from a compass view (where you are always facing the instructors from the side), the man’s perspective, and the lady’s perspective. This application also has an icon to keep track of the eight count tempo. Once again, one can slow down the instructional video and check one’s posture. Our focus would not be on creating our own videos, however, but on creating a platform for an audience to create and distribute content amongst themselves. However, we would compete by having similar features for the distributable package (if one wants to include multiple videos for multiple views they can) while also allowing one all the control over marking, mixing and tempo.

Although it is a paid and supposedly extended application, the lessons are barely extended beyond that of similar free clones. If one is looking to learn the very, very basic steps, however, then it is a very successful application. The user interface for displaying videos in specific panes does seem to change too often between steps, which can be potentially disorienting to the user while they’re trying to learn the dance.

Dance Mixer

Dance Mixer

Music editing enthusiasts and choreographers who wish to create their own music and sync up a given set of dance moves, in the form of a music video, to their custom track. We target dancers that actually physically dance and edit their music for choreographed pieces of music versus a game-like interaction.

Application allows one to create a custom 30 second track with a variety of electronic instruments such as a drum machine, synthesizer, guitar riffs, etc. They can also experiment with how choreography works syncs with music by matching up their track with an animated character that will dance a specified set of moves. Our application will veer drastically away from this application’s ability to edit music as we will focus on splicing and dilineating certain marked sections for certain songs. Beyond being able to modulate play speed (tempo) and strength of sound for a splice, we will not offer functionality for creating a custom beat (at this time anyway).

The success of the app derives from the fun one may have from creating his or her own electronic beat and accompanying dance music video. Outside of the novelty of such a game and the limited ability to splice beats together though, it fails at being practically applicable in a real dance practice, as we hope to be. We will avoid such pitfalls by focusing on actual tasks of a dancer and iterating design from there, such as needing a specific section slowed down for an initial teaching of the steps.

PianoStudio

PianoStudio

Piano players who wish to be able to compose musical pieces even if they are not in front of a piano. Our target audience is interested in the interpretation of music through dance, but the ability to rearrange “phrases” of music and play along to songs in your iTunes, or in our instance dance, shows similar user needs.

User is able to record and edit tracks by rearranging recorded pieces, while also drawing inspiration from the musical pieces within one’s iTunes library. Visual customizations allow one to easily organize and rearrange music. Within the scope of functionality we’re interested in, we will improve by involving information about the tracks being spliced together as part of the visual representation, but the use of a timeline in editing the music within landscape is something we plan to implement as well. We will also let the specified sections be easily accessible to play rather than just saved pieces within the composing of a song.

Inspiration strikes at sometimes the oddest of times, and according to reports, this application is incredibly successful in letting one get one’s musical thoughts on page. It is actually the best reviewed application I have included, but it suffers from poorly planned user interface organization in places and does not make enough use of the ability to move things around with the touch interface. We will improve by focusing on the way the user interacts with the iPhone when moving one splice of a song from one spot to another.

Summary of Findings

After scouring the internet and Apple's iPhone App store for the most relevant, in both target audience and functionality, I have been convinced of both the uniqueness of both our proposed application and its target audience. Each application overlapped in only certain subsets of our intended functionality, and I now see that what we are trying to do is not make an application that is better than a similarly-targeted application, but do an application right for the first time. Field observation and task analysis has made my group believe a mobile application, with the ability to mark, sync video and audio, and edit could actually help dancers become better at what they do. However, the findings here have shown that simplicity and visual cues are the key to success with our user base. PianoStudio, for all its excellence, is slightly held back by it constrained ability to store and navigate newly composed pieces, so we need to focus on how we plan to label and mark sections a user has stored. Although the functionality of our music editing (volume control, multiple tracks, tempo) has been done in a way by VC Audio Pro, there is still vast room for improvement of the visual manipulation of pieces without overloading the user with every unnecessary detail. The unique value of our application comes from the understanding of exactly what tasks dancers and choreographers need addressing, even if they themselves do not notice it, and by fixing the tedious practice of rewinding, missing sections of music, or being unable to slow it down, dancers can do what they do even better.



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