Making the Digital More Tangible - OZY | A Modern Media Company
A Qleek Hive hanging on a wall.


Because there’s finally a way to enjoy your favorite digital content in the analog world.

By Laura Secorun Palet

Dust is collecting on CD collections worldwide, and many would have a hard time remembering when they last listened to music on a CD player — or even owned a CD player. And except for club DJs, sliding vinyl from record sleeves is a forgotten pleasure. But what if it wasn’t?

There’s no denying that media consumption has completely changed in recent years, with books, songs, photos and movies being streamed to us online and on demand. Digitalization is certainly convenient, but there’s an intimacy and aesthetic pleasure that comes from interacting with physical objects like magazines and vinyl records. Qleek aims to marry our offline and online worlds by adding physicality to easy listening in the modern age.

Digitalization is certainly convenient, but there’s an intimacy and aesthetic pleasure that comes from interacting with physical objects like magazines and vinyl records.

This new media player combines the ease and flexibility of digital content with the comfort of touchable objects. Qleek uses elegant wooden hexagons called Tapps that work just like records to deliver digital content like music, videos and photographs. 

Johanna Hartzheim, Pierre-Rudolf Gerlach and Ismail Salhi posing with tools in a workshop.

(L-R) Johanna Hartzheim, Pierre-Rudolf Gerlach and Ismail Salhi.

Source Qleek

The device comes from Ozenge, a Parisian startup. Creators Johanna Hartzheim, Pierre-Rudolf Gerlach and Ismail Salhi were frustrated by having the content they loved stuck inside impersonal smartphones and computer screens, so they decided to come up with a way to make technology feel more intimate.

The goal is to revolutionize streaming by making it easier and more human. Instead of scrolling down a screen, launching an app or having to connect cables, Qleek users just place a Tapp on the minimalistic box-like player, and the digital content is instantly reproduced on the screen or speakers of their choice (as long as they are equipped with wireless technology like Bluetooth). 

Tapps link with content stored somewhere else — on the Internet or local networked hard drives — so there’s no limit to their capacity, and you can access virtually anything you could otherwise consume on your computer. Want to listen to your Spotify playlist? Watch the latest Game of Thrones? Pull up your friend’s Instagram feed? Just pick the right Tapp and place it on Qleek.

Through the company’s website you can customize both your Tapp’s content and cover by choosing among pre-existing designs or making one of your own by uploading a personal image that is then printed onto a Tapp and mailed to you. By making Tapps so easy to personalize, the designers hope users will go on to create digital bookshelves called “Hives” to showcase their original creations.

And then there’s the possibility of reinventing the beloved mix tape. With just a few clicks, anyone can pick their favorite tracks or other pieces of digital information and share them with friends and loved ones.

For those eager to start building their Hive, Qleek can be pre-ordered on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. One Qleek device and five Tapps cost $249, and the release date is set for this December. Additional Tapps can be purchased for $6 each.

It might not replace the feeling of a book or the nostalgia of a vinyl, but Qleek hopes to make our digital lives a touch more human.

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