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gym shot MusicFX is an example of an active environment that uses a group preference arbitration system to allow the members of a fitness center to influence, but not directly control, the selection of music in that environment. The system contains a database of members' musical preferences, a badge system for determining who is working out, and a weighted random selection algorithm for selecting music to best suit the group inhabitants at any given time. MusicFX was deployed in the fitness center at Accenture Technology Park in Northbrook, IL (USA) from November 1997 through January, 2002 (when Accenture moved out of the office park), and was very popular among the hundreds of members of the facility throughout its service.

While the system provided a democratic music selection process, it was not necessarily the most egalitarian approach. A later [simulated] version of the system uses a multi-agent market-based economy to allocate influence within the environment, where the inhabitants who like the music being played pay the inhabitants who do not like that music. Over time, people who are continually subjected to music they don't like can accrue enough capital to pay for music they do like. In effect, the original version tries to please most of the people all of the time, whereas the later version tries to please all of the people some of the time.

Publications, Press, Presentation and Video

Personalization and Collectivization at the Intersection of the Virtual and Physical Worlds
Joseph F. McCarthy
IEEE Internet Computing, Special Issue on Personalization and Privacy, November/December 2001
[Abstract] [Paper (PDF)]

A Multi-Agent System for Meting Out Influence in an Intelligent Environment
M. V. Nagendra Prasad and Joseph F. McCarthy
11th Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence Conference (IAAI '99), 18-22 July 1999, Orlando
[Abstract] [Paper (PDF)]

MusicFX: An Arbiter of Group Preferences for Computer Supported Collaborative Workouts
Joseph F. McCarthy and Theodore D. Anagnost
ACM 1998 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW '98), 14-18 November 1998, Seattle
[Abstract] [Paper (PDF)] [Slides (@SlideShare)]

MusicFX was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times (Programmer's music system takes requests, 19 July 1999) and won a Nova 7 Award for Innovative Excellence, from Fitness Management Magazine in January 1999.