AT&T Beats networked together 15 of Samsung’s flagship Android phones and a Samsung Android tablet to create a virtual beatbox.

Each phone represented a musical instrument or sound effect. On the left turntable were one-shot effects like record scratching. On the right were samples from popular song tracks of the summer (Imagine Dragon’s Radioactive, We Are Young by Fun., etc.) In the middle were loops for percussion, guitar and bass. The guest walked through a short tutorial, then made their own mix. A copy of the MP3 they created was emailed to them through our ActivationStation back-end system.

AT&T Beats debuted at theSan Francisco’s Outside Lands festival in August 2013, then went on tour. A variant of AT&T Beats that mixed university fight songs, was used at several NCAA games in the fall of 2013.

Tech Specs

The phones were networked together using a custom, fault-tolerant UDP protocol developed for our Speed of Light project (see the blog post on the Tachyon UDP Project). The Android tablet acted as a network master, learning the IP addresses of all handsets automagically and delivering them the screen and audio assets they needed. The Android tablet was also tolerant of sparse internet connectivity and would cache all activation uploads until a solid connection was discovered.

Mixdown was done in realtime using 16-bit PCM samples that were “beat aligned” with the BPM of the percussion tracks.


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