Music Tech, Sans Mice: Cybersonica 06 Presents Fanciful Sonic Art

Cybersonica is underway in London, bringing with it wild, new sound art. Organizer Chris O’Shea puts it this way: The works selected . . . move beyond the ‘screen, keyboard, mouse scenario’ and respond to physical input, proximity, sound, kinetics, elapsed time and the surrounding environment. Check out the preview videos, photos, and descriptions at Chris’ site. And if you’re in London, by all means, please go and see this! If you do go, take some notes and photos and send them my way. I know the organizers are hoping for some blog coverage, so let’s not let them down …

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Interactive Touchable Fabric: Music by “Casting a Spell”

As great as the potential of advanced touchscreens may be, for music and other media applications, touchscreens aren’t much fun to touch. Close your eyes and remove visual feedback, and you’re basically running your finger along a piece of plastic. (You’d think we could figure out a way to at least texture it without losing tracking.) Compare that to piano or drums: musical instruments can be played satisfyingly with your eyes closed. Yeah, you can do that to look “deep,” but the point is, you’re relying on tactile, not visual feedback. Here’s a promising solution: the Hyperfabric project (via the …

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Multitouch Interfaces of the Future: More Expressive, More Flexible

There was a time when skeptics thought mice would never catch on. “People will never give up their QWERTY keyboards,” they said. They were half right: now we take both for granted. Now, more experiments in multi-touch interfaces are appearing by the day. Aside from mysterious Apple patents, we have, via We Make Money Not Art, new research in multi-touch interactions from a team led by Jefferson Han. (Demos pictured.) This isn’t just any touchscreen: not only does it recognize multiple fingers as inputs, but it projects whatever imagery you want in response, enabling new, fluid interfaces, and even responds …

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Turntable-Controlled Vibrating Chaise Longue

Tokyo-based DJ Daito Manabe has devised a unique use for a turntable: he hooked it up to a multiple-PowerBook rig so you can scratch 34 tracks of sound or sit back in a vibrating chaise longue. I asked Daito how this works, and responded in an email that reads a bit like a poetic riddle: Chair for the silence consists of two elements. The first one is a chair that can provide 32 vibrations, the second is music of 34 tracks for touch and hearing. People can experience this by sitting in the chair and dropping the phonograph needle. We …

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Ars Electronica Roundup: Futuristic Tech in Linz

Ars Electronica is one the premiere events of the interactive tech world, and this year was apparently no exception. Good luck deciphering the stream-of-consciousness blog entries on the festival, though; I sure can’t. I’ve tried to pull some of the best references here (via a wiki of weblog action: Ars Electronica Review [pieceofplastic.com] Ars Electronica photostream [Flickr] Tangible interfaces [engadgeted.net], again featuring the ReacTable — see CDM’s musical table roundup One of the highlights was the Tenori-On, an interactive LED music toy from the creator of Nintendo’s upcoming game ElectroPlankton, as covered here before. But the coolest event sounds like …

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DIY Multi-Touch Interfaces and Other Futuristic Tricks

Via Pixelsumo comes a fantastic lineup of links to futuristic interfaces for music, etc. If you were impressed by Cycling 74’s new Lemur touchscreen, with the power to let you touch multiple points on a pad simultaneously for controlling music/sound/etc., Jeff Han has built his own. His Frustrated Total Internal Reflection project may sound like some sort of existential experience, but it’s really an optical system for tracking multiple finger touches on a screen. You need a back projector, so it’s not as portable or compact as the Lemur, but watch the video: extremely low latency, extremely high sensitivity. Jeff …

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Music with Force Feedback: Tremor Vibrating Sleeve

Régine at WWMNA points to Tremor, a “tactile music sleeve is a piece of clubwear that allows the user to ‘feel’ the music that is being played in the club.” Supposedly helpful to those with hearing difficulties. Hmm . . . not sure which club you’ve been going to, but one generally finds you can feel the music as vibrations without wearing any additional gear. And if you’re a regular, well, pretty much everyone winds up with hearing difficulties. There is one novelty: vibrations are split into bass, mid, and treble — I do like that idea. (Oh, and it …

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Open Source Interfaces for Sound: d-touch Tagged Blocks

Here’s even more open source code for creating new sound interfaces using free-moving blocks for control. We looked at Sonicforms, which is both intended as a project and a repository for information. Chris’ project uses a projector aimed at a tabletop for additional feedback, and IR lights for sensing. That adds cost to the system and makes it less portable (though it does provide a cooler visual interface.) The d-touch project, in contrast, uses tags on the blocks that are recognized by a simple webcam (fiducial recognition). Advantage: no projector, no fancy interface, ultra-portable, ultra-cheap. Sure, you lose out on …

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Tabletop, Block-Based Music Making: The List

There's been an explosion of so-called "tangible interfaces" for music: the basic scenario is, there's a table, possibly with projections, and little blocks or objects or projected thingies you can play around with and move to produce sound. (Tangible = something physical you can move or touch, as opposed to an interface that's intangible, like the filter routing in Apple Logic's Ultrabeat, which was designed by aliens who would rather use mental telepathy for control.) Lately, there have been nearly weekly introductions of slight variations on this theme, so many that if you've been reading interactive tech blog near near …

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