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A band plays together online using Elk's Aloha technology. Image: Elk

Swedish startup Elk is debuting a hardware-software combination on Tuesday named Aloha that allows musicians and bands separated by distance to perform together online using traditional wired internet connections and, eventually, 5G wireless networks.

Why it matters: Such technology was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic and has become increasingly needed in an era where many bands are unable to meet in person.

Be smart: The big issue with collaborating musically over the internet isn't total bandwidth, but rather the delay, or latency, of the connection.

  • Latency comes from both the network and the device processing the sound on each end. It also depends on the connection as well as the physical distance being traveled.

What they're saying: CEO Michele Benincaso says that traditional video conferencing software can have a delay of up to 500 milliseconds (half a second).

  • Just using a PC adds 15 milliseconds of delay on each end. But musicians performing remotely require 20 milliseconds or less total delay.
  • The musicians’ internet connections and distance from one another matter too, but Benincaso said that the company has seen good results over standard home internet connections.
  • "Of course if you have a 56K modem, that won’t work," he said.

How it works: Elk's technology uses an optimized version of Linux to create a device that can send musical signals over the internet with far less delay than would be the case with a traditional PC.

  • Musicians attach their instruments to a pocket-size device that contains audio input and output jacks as well as an Ethernet port.
  • On the software side, Elk offers a video chat app that also contains advanced sound controls. You can see Aloha in a promotional video here.

Yes, but: Aloha won't be entering an empty field. Other products, including JamKazam, provide software and some hardware options for real-time music collaboration.

What to watch: Elk is planning an October public beta for Aloha, with commercial availability in the second quarter of next year. The company also sees opportunities in integrating video, including virtual reality, with music down the road.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Aug 11, 2020 - Technology

Nationalism and authoritarianism threaten the internet's universality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Governments around the world, prompted by nationalism, authoritarianism and other forces, are threatening the notion of a single, universal computer network — long the defining characteristic of the internet.

The big picture: Most countries want the internet and the economic and cultural benefits that come with it. Increasingly, though, they want to add their own rules — the internet with an asterisk, if you will. The question is just how many local rules you can make before the network's universality disappears.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.