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Skiers, snowboarders use motion-controlled music app created by CSU grad

As snowboarders and skiers patiently wait for the snow season, a Colorado State University alumnus has developed a new app that could make this the best winter on the slopes yet.

Michael Kabatek graduated from CSU in 2002 with a double major in electrical engineering and physics, and after working in Denver for a year, he returned in 2009 to get his masters.

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It was then that he founded his startup, Stream^N.Inc, with the help of two other CSU alums, Michael Deangelo and Michael Tucker. Kabatek said Deangelo advises him on business development and Tucker advises him on algorithms.

“It’s just kind of been a loose partnership so far, but I’m the principal founder, and I’ve handled most the development as well,” Kabatek said.

The brainchild of that development has been an app called Noisapp. The app serves as an appendage to music players while in motion and adjusts the volume of your music based on how fast you are moving. Kabatek said it is compatible with any music streaming service.

Kabatek said the motivation for the app came from his own love for boarding.

“I skateboard a lot, I snowboard a lot and incidentally, one day I was skating around and my headphones kept flopping around, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is just way too cumbersome to have to always (adjust my music),'” Kabatek said. “I just wanted to find a seamless way to adjust my music so that it plays when I’m in motion, and turns down when you slow down or stop. I really just wanted to get rid of the friction of having to mess with my headphones all the time.”

Kabatek said the idea hit him while skateboarding, but functions much better for snowboarding.

Caroline Klusza, a sophomore on the CSU snowboarding team, sees the practicality as well.

“I usually have to stop and take my phone out of its pocket on the inside, and you have to take off your gloves and everything,” Klusza said. “Usually when you’re stopped is when you want to talk to people, and you don’t really want to be listening to music at the same time.”

Amelia Howe, a CSU junior who was a member of the snowboarding team last year, agrees.

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“One of my biggest annoyances is constantly having to take my gloves off to turn down my music, or take out a headphone while I’m on the lift or in line to talk to my friends,” Howe said. “Having the music stop when I’m not moving would make it much easier than having to physically control the volume.”

Noisapp uses three bits of technology that are in every smartphone these days: the gyro, the linear accelerometer and a magnetometer. These three pieces of tech are always on, and they are what measure your phone’s orientation, movement and motion. It is what allows a phone’s camera to flip to sideways, helping the compass app pinpoint direction.

“Noisapp takes the data and estimates your velocity with it and then decides what to do with the music,” Kabatek said.

He noted that his experience in physics and working with measurements such as acceleration, velocity and motion, coupled with his experience in signal processing he gained while working on his master’s, came together to create the perfect storm for making the app.

Kabatek said Stream^N is still working on several other projects, though none of them are designed for public, everyday consumption like Noisapp. They are not, as he put it, “ready for prime time.”

Noisapp is available now on the app store for iPhones, Windows and Android. There is both a free version and an ad-free version for $2.99.

Collegian Reporter Luke Scriffiny can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @lscriffiny.

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