Music Sharing Takes UK Team To The Imagine Cup 2013

Team Colinked want to share music between devices – and that desire got them to the Imagine Cup student competition finals in St Petersburg

This week, student teams from 71 countries around the world have met in St Petersburg for the finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup. The UK is represented by team Colinked – a group of four students from the University of Exeter who have developed an unusual music streaming app.

SoundSYNK, about to be released on Windows Phone, allows users to connect an unlimited amount of devices together and stream perfectly synchronised music across a Bluetooth mesh network, creating a stereo system which can grow to infinity (and beyond? – ed).

The app automatically deals with delays and latency, and is due to appear on Android and iOS in the near future. Colinked have already won the Imagine Cup UK finals and received a £10,000 grant from Creative England to take their idea further.


Make beautiful music together

Chatting to Colinked, a typical start-up, in a hotel lobby in the middle of St Petersburg, it’s hard to believe the students’ first meeting took place just four months ago. “The whole team met at the Imagine Cup regional event. We didn’t actually know each other before then. We arrived together, sat next to each other and decided to just go with it,” Ed Noel, a mechanical engineering student, told TechWeekEurope.

Colinked Photo (Custom)“It was about two in the morning on the second day of the event. We were absolutely shattered at this point, went through loads of Red Bull. Alex [Bochenski] and Johnatan [Neumann] were trying to put their laptops together to play music at the same time, and it just didn’t work. At that moment we all looked at each other, and we knew what we were going to do.”

SoundSYNK had to satisfy several key criteria. First, it wasn’t supposed to rely on Wi-Fi, since the app was intended to work anywhere – for example, at a festival, where wireless coverage is patchy at best. Another important consideration was to be able to link an unlimited number of devices. Finally, the app should be able to stream music instantly and in decent quality.

“When we got to the UK finals, we faced some really good competition. But the team who came second was also from the University of Exeter, and we were pretty happy about that,” said Noel. “Ever since winning the UK finals, Microsoft has really opened up to us, gave us advice and help. They’ve done a great job,” added Bochenski.

SoundSYNKDespite this support, Colinked are not planning to keep SoundSYNK a Windows Phone exclusive. And Microsoft never claims the work of Imagine Cup finalists for itself, no matter how tempting it may be. “We like the idea of making it cross-platform, so anyone can get hold of it. We really need to make it viral, to reach as many people as possible,” said Noel.

“We all co-founded Colinked,” explained Rob Parker, another member of the team. “The company is looking at participation in a number of accelerator programs. We’re considering venture capital funding, but we’ll see what happens.”

Between their studies and developing SoundSYNK, the team has taken a week off to present their creation In Russia. The competition in the international finals is tougher, but $1,000,000 in prize money is well worth fighting for. “We’ve seen a few presentations, and there’s some great new tech here. Some things you can’t even imagine – augmented reality helmets and the like,” said Bochenski.

“The Imagine Cup is a lot of fun, and it makes a huge difference. You get inspired, you get important contacts, and your CV looks a lot better. The internships don’t do it anymore,” concluded Neumann.

The finals of the Imagine Cup 2013 will take place on Thursday evening, and we wish the UK team good luck!

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