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Pepsi MacGyvers A Case Of Soda Into A Boombox For SXSW

For its panel at South by Southwest, Pepsi is introducing some new tech that senses physical objects and allows you to make music out of them.

The Pepsi Throwback idea was retro enough already, taking the logo design (and ingredients content) back to a time before soda-sipping Millennials were born. Now the company is paying further tribute to bygone eras with a tech-forward program that can turn a case of Pepsi Throwback into a 1980s-style boombox.

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Debuting at South by Southwest’s “What If? Unconference” event on Friday PepsiCo’s Hi-Fi boombox looks like the kind of thing a scientist would construct on a desert island if he wanted to kick out some jams. It has tiny subwoofers stuffed into panels on either side, unseen cords and electronics presumably on the inside, and an on/off knob on the back. In addition to playing music, however, Pepsi is also unveiling an app (still in beta) which lets you customize music by moving around Pepsi (and Pepsi-affiliated products only, please) cans.

The new Hi-Fi app senses the presence of physical objects, and aligns them with a specific sound element. If a user moves, say, a Mountain Dew Throwback can closer to a stationary iPhone with the app on it, one part of a song might intensify; move another Pepsi can into the periphery and the beat gets even funkier. The Hi-Fi even recognizes other products in the PepsiCo family, but in an irresistible bit of branding fun, it will not play music for a Coke can.

It’s perfect timing to unveil directions on how to download the app too, because if there’s one thing South by Southwest needs, it’s more DJs.

PepsiCo brands have a busy week at SXSW. Pepsi is also linking with Turntable.fm to bring global DJs to the Austin event. Doritos unveils a new product innovation through a specially created music venue at SXSW. The Jacked Stage and Mountain Dew will showcase artists from its digital music label Green Label Sound.