Tune in to Radio Babylon

by Giles Turnbull

Take a wifi card, an audio in/out card, sundry other little bits of circuitry and a splash of C code, and what have you got?

Why, Radio Babylon of course, programmer Andy McFarland's lo-fi but very cool little music device for electronics and software hackers.

This tiny little jumble of wires uses Bonjour to connect to any shared iTunes libraries it can find. Then it picks a song at random and starts playing. Everything else is on the todo list.

Andy began the project to learn more about gumstix, a selection of tiny little boards of Linux-capable goodness, for sale at reasonable prices to hobbyists, geeks and anyone with spare time to hack.

But who knows - maybe Andy's clever idea might inspire some future official iPod feature. If you've been following the Mac rumors recently, you'll have noticed some interest in an article at The Times that blithely predicts a wireless iPod in the works.

And why not? If the iPod were wireless, it would not always have to be playing music stored on its own hard disk. If it incorporated Andy McFarland's Babylon idea, or something like it, you could use the iPod to access all your digital music (and video) while you were still within range of your network. The hard disk would only be used while out of range. Perhaps the hard disk could be deactivated altogether by putting the iPod into a 'Home' or 'Network' mode. Just think of the extra battery life.