I've been on a quest to find a product that will let me safely listen to music when I ride my bike. The operating word here is safely. Headphones don't cut it as they block the ear canal. So, you can't hear what's going on around you. Another solution I've considered is mounting speakers on the handlebars. But they require batteries and add weight to the bike. I've looked at a number of possible speakers, but nothing resonated with me. As I continued to look, I became aware of a new product called the Tunebug Shake by Silicon Valley Global LLC. The Shake is a very cool product - it uses SurfaceSound speaker technology making a helmet into a speaker and bluetooth for a wireless connection between it and the music player. The Shake just started shipping in June. So, I ordered one.
Silicon Valley Global describes the Shake as:
"Mobile music typically means listening through headphones, dangerously isolating yourself from others and your environment. The Tunebug Shake is an ultra-portable sound generator that can be connected to iPods, MP3 players or mobile phones or used wirelessly using Bluetooth®. When mounted on a bike, skate or snowboard helmet, the Shake creates a surround sound experience."
I received my Shake, charged it up, and fitted it to my bike helmet. I tried it with my iPhone 3G. The bluetooth setup with straight forward and worked the first time. I turned on iPod and listened to music. I did the same with Pandora. I tried connecting the Shake with a stereo cable. The music sounded fuller and louder. I'm a bit hard of hearing. So, having good volume is helpful to me.
I have an iPhone holder on my bike. So, I mounted the iPhone, connected the Shake, and went for a ride. Everything started off great. I now had music that I could hear well and still be totally aware of all of the sounds around me. Unfortunately, that didn't last long. As I continued to ride, the iPod application started to randomly change songs on me. I have never had this problem before with my iPhone and a number of different headphones and speakers.
I fiddled with the wiring, the controls, the iPhone, the Shake, restarted the iPhone, read through the Shake documentation, and looked at the support area on the Tunebug website. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything that could explain the random song changing. Could it be a faulty Shake? Could it be interfance from my wireless bike computer? Could it be a bad cable? I tested everything and found no solution. But I did notice one thing - when my bike was stationary, the iPhone didn't skip songs. It only skipped songs when I was riding.
In growing frustration, I called Tunebug support. My call was answered immediately. They took my information and told me that I would be contacted in short order. The folks at Tunebug were very responsive, but since the device is new and hasn't been exposed to all user scenarios, they didn't have a fix. I agreed to do some more testing and they agreed to discuss the problem with engineering. That was yesterday.
Today, I got an email from Tunebug. They told me that they have had other reports of this problem with iPhone and iTouch. And better, they provided a simple fix. This is the version of the fix for an iPhone:
- Open Settings
- Select iPod
- In the iPod setting, turn off "Shake to Shuffle"
This sure did make me laugh. I had no idea that this feature was available and set to on by default. I think that it's even funnier since the name of the feature is the same as the name of the Tunebug product.
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