A new way to discover music


BrainFree is a context-aware music application for smartphones. By using weather, location, and activity data gathered through sensors, web, and user input, BrainFree is able to populate playlists with songs that match the user's context, providing the user with a new way to discover and rediscover music.

The system—codenamed “Brain Free”—enables users to minimize their operational inputs required to find music which would be suitable to contextual information like weather, social activities, and so on. In other words, the system fetches music based on the combination of both contextual information and users’ inputted information. Users can then enjoy a selection of the music they love fine-tuned to their activities. Users can also make sense of their gigantic music libraries by discovering or rediscovering songs they have never listened to, long-forgotten songs, and songs they have just purchased.

The purpose of the innovative system is not only to empower users so they can find the content more intuitively but also to provide them with alternatives to deal with certain social activities that would benefit from as few tactile interactions with the system as possible. The system would perform like an intelligent assistant that can understand the context, social activities and emotional status of their owners.


Music is an important part of our lives. As a matter of fact, people listen to music most often when they are doing other things: studying, painting, jogging and even relaxing. However, good music is hard to find because we need different types of music when we are under different kind of situations or in different moods. We spend more time searching for music online than we actually listen to it. As practitioners in the Human Computing Interaction field, we want to change that dilemma. With this prototype, we have demonstrated a brand new way to enjoy music. Instead of making users searching for something they are unclear of, content will be generated for them. In order to do that, we incorporate concepts like context awareness and emotion awareness into our design to make our app understand the context and situations of the users. Besides, we also provide users with a new user interface design to facilitate music exploration as well as making everything intuitive and fun.


The prototype for BrainFree was created using Axure RP 7, a prototyping software suite.

Select features


The nebula is the main part of the interface of BrainFree. It allows users to explore new music and add music to the playlist. Users can navigate the nebula by dragging the nebula in all directions. The circles represent songs that can be added to the playlist. Music is sorted by emotional context, with the colors around the circles matching the feeling that the songs convey.


The playlist displays the previous song, the current song, and the upcoming songs that are either system-chosen or user-chosen, based on whether users added songs to the playlist or not. To add songs, users only need to tap on songs in the nebula to drop them to the playlist. These dropped songs will replace the system automatic selection.

Context Control

To give more control to users, the context data that is gathered by the application can be changed through the context bar on top of the screen. Location, weather, and activity can be changed by users through dropdown lists.

Emoticon Selection

Accessible through a menu on top of the application, the emoticons allow users to express the music emotional genre they want to listen to—e.g. happy songs, sad songs–in a text-free fashion. Tapping an emoticon will take users to the corresponding part of the nebula with songs matching the selected emotion.


Below is the presentation of BrainFree recorded on Oct. 23, 2014 at IUPUI.

The team

The team behind BrainFree is composed of three IUPUI doctoral students: Victor Cornet, Nitya Verma, and Xing Yu. More about them by clicking on their pictures below.