Music from Floating Balloons, via Kinect

In a whimsical proof of concept, artist and inventor Dan Wilcox harnesses the depth-sensing powers of the Kinect camera to turn a room full of drifting balloons into music. It occurs to me that the basic spatial model can be seen as descended directly from the Theremin – way to go, Leon, still relevant today. The sounds are simple, but it seems something you could continue to develop musically – to say nothing of what it could do for the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s. (Slogan: Where a Kid Can Be a Kid Who Gets Obsessed With Skeeball Prizes …

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Inflatable Guitar

Guitars may be more portable than, say, a concert harp, but can you fit them under an airplane seat? Sure you can, if you’re lucky enough to own one of the 15 Chrysalis Guitars in the world. The instruments, developed by ex-biologist Tim White starting in the early 80s, actually inflate (as in, you blow them up), allowing their body to collapse into portable form in seconds for storage. (See a recent Nashau Telegraph article on the instrument and its creator.) Think it’ll sound like crap? Think again: have a listen to audio posted during the guitar’s feature appearance at …

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MIDIBALL: Balloon Musical Interface

Want intuitive in an interface? Can't get much more intuitive than this: now-defunct interactive world-rhythm band D'CuCKOO (1986-1998, superceded by RhythMix) built the MIDIBALL: a helium-filled balloon packed with wireless triggers so that the audience could trigger sounds and images. D'CuCKOO also built bamboo trigger sticks, marimbas and drums and even a giant interactive 3D puppet that could animated with shows. One of the founding members even went on to help create the incredible Mac visual synthesis software Studio Artist. But you can't beat a balloon for simple interactivity.

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Balloons as Speakers and Microphones

Here in the blogosphere, we only care about up-to-the-minute technology, right? On the contrary. We still find these talking balloons pretty damn cool. (via a huge post on the MIT Media Lab from Make:blog — go ahead, waste the rest of the afternoon) State-of-the-art 1995 technology, so get cracking: a piezo sensor mounted to the front face of the balloon lets the ballon's aluminized mylar body act as both microphone and speaker. In layman's terms: the balloons can talk to each other. (Don't say "I invented talking baloons" and expect to get far in academia, though. The proper term, as …

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