Free software, a webcam, and some stickers printed on an inkjet can turn any object into a real-world controller. That’s what Paul Rose of Institut Fatima and his team did with a soccer ball (translation for the civilized world: football). The software is powered by the same framework used for the reacTable, but in this case there’s no table and no projector: just a ball.
Institut FATIMA uses a Fussball as (des-)controller for triggering drumsamples. The camera detects the symbols on the ball, kicks numbers into the sequencer, the sequencer matches goals. The goal is always music. Software used is reactivision and ableton live. Do it at home.
As it happens, reacTIVision just got a significant update, with more improvements planned. You can read up on the full details on Create Digital Motion:
Martin Kaltenbrunner, co-creator of the framework (and the reacTable), has some tips for working with tangible interfaces and music, and where to find more inspiration.
In addition to TUIO, reacTIVision also has an alternative MIDI mode, where you can map the appearance of fiducial symbols to note ON and OFF events, as well as their X,Y and rotation angle to a control channel value. Quite a few people have been using this for the creation of cheap web-cam based MIDI controllers.
Using TUIO, you have more alternatives though, you can currently use Max/MSP, Pure Data, Quartz Composer, Processing, Java, C++, C# and so on to receive the object & finger tracking data. Here are a few cool musical projects, that have been built using reacTIVision:
Patrick H. Lauke (patch pictured, from Flickr) has a video on YouTube that shows some of the basic workflow for combining the free patching environment Pd with TUIO and reacTIVision. He cautions:
this may not be pleasant from a musical point of view, but it only serves as a first test for further experimentation.