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MIT Students' Audiopad Mixes Electronic Music 122

Posted by timothy
from the cool-videos dept.
nicodemus05 writes "Grad students at MIT's Media Lab have come up with an innovative control device called the Audiopad to run their digital music studio. The Audiopad, '...is a composition and performance instrument for electronic music which tracks the positions of objects on a tabletop surface and converts their motion into music.' It's practical, but more importantly it looks really, really cool."
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MIT Students' Audiopad Mixes Electronic Music

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  • by torpor (458) <(ten.htnys) (ta) (vyaj)> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @05:09AM (#6497521) Homepage Journal
    I watch out for this stuff all the time.

    It's not always practical to apply this technology to the music-instrument market, though. The economy of the musical instrument market is a pretty tight one, sometimes - licensing things like this for incorporation into a product can make or break a product. I don't think the D-Beam or any of the other Ir-based controllers, for example, resulted in any kind of increased revenues, but they sure did cost a bundle to license.

    As far as integrating alternative-control methods into musical instruments, we're actively engaged in research, within certain constraints.

    There may well be some interesting new synthesizers on the horizon ...

  • by lennart78 (515598) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @05:29AM (#6497579)
    Excuse me for being software-minded, but wouldn't it be possible to use some of the control-functions and build a MIDI-controller to use with softsynths, or even modular software such as Reaktor?
    I think it would offer some interesting possibilities.
  • nice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tade (156618) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @05:57AM (#6497646)
    This reminds me of this [mlab.uiah.fi]. It is called Mixed Reality Pong.

    Mixed Reality Pong is a mixed reality version of the classic "Pong" game. The aim of the game is to score goals by hitting a virtual ball over the other end of the game area protected by the opponent player. The game counts the goals the players have scored, and they can agree to play either for a limited amount of time, or until either of them has scored a certain amount of goals.
    The players can play the game with their hands or other real-world objects. The game physics simulate the behaviour of a real ball, except that the virtual ball doesn't slow down at all.
  • Re:sigh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by broeman (638571) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @06:01AM (#6497651) Journal
    I just ended my master in interaction design among other design tasks. The idea of interaction design is to create tangible (mostly) interfaces that can connect to human logic and emotion (human computer interaction). Of course the tools looks like toy and act like a toy, simply because they are easy to use. What is the real challenge is to connect the evergrowing functionality with easy handling, and it seemes that the MIT guys, Professor Bill Verplank (the travelling lector *grin*) in northern Italy and Berkley (also music interaction mostly) and the study I went to here in Denmark (IT Product Design, Sønderborg) are the only educations and research facilities for easy handling in the world. My education was also quite focused on working with the industry (and especially the users). The industry also see the products as toys that is produced for showing off, but when a situation arouse they would suddenly see why we designed the products in those ways, and then get the full acknowledgement of our work. It has nothing to do with spectacular design, but with experiencing new ideas first hand, and even to create them as realistic as possible (isn't that was studying is about?).

  • by entartete (659190) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @06:33AM (#6497727)
    The d-beam did seem to add some 'gee whiz' factor to the groovebox things roland stuck it on to, which might have not directly sold many units (I own one, and mostly because of the d-beam and general knobbyness of it, to use as a portable machine to play with live, but i picked it up used so roland didn't directly make any money from me) but it might have paid off in terms of advertising/name recognition. I did a lot of my graduate work using a Very Nervous System (gestural control system using a couple cameras that could track motion,etc) and without fail everytime i'd perform with it in public someone would go 'hey! that's like that thing on the mc-505!' and a mini roland commercial would ensue. dunno if that it would completely justify the costs though. For the forseeable future though I agree that it wouldn't be worth if for most synth companies to build any of the more exotic interfaces directly into an instrument. but it might be worth it for an instrument manufacturer to work closely with a third party controller manufacturer and make certain their synthesizer worked especially well with whatever gizmo the interface maker was coming out with, make a bank of preset sounds that work well with it, much like how a lot of yamaha fm synths have patches designed for some sort of vector sweep like control or for wind controllers, midi guitars, etc as well as make sure that the interface shipped with an instrument definition for whatever your new synth is. If access would like to give me one of those oh so pretty indigo2's i'd be happy to help out with some gestural control oriented patches for it. ;)
  • by torpor (458) <(ten.htnys) (ta) (vyaj)> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @06:46AM (#6497762) Homepage Journal

    Yes, of course it would be possible, but I don't work for a software synthesizer manufacturer, I work for a hardware synthesizer manufacturer.

    We actually make money (soft synth guys don't, pity for them). This means it is more seductive for someone to require us to license something like this technology.

    We'd rather just come up with it ourselves.

    Either way though, the lesson to be learnt from MIT is that there is a loooot of room for improvement in the control surface side of things.

    (We know that already, though.)
  • cool (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Aeonsfx (675982) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @06:58AM (#6497802) Journal
    I think its pretty cool. I've always liked stuff the MIT media lab was producing, especially CSound. True, its been many years past since Barry Vercoe was an MIT grad student, but damn, it made the MIT media lab famous. Took a long time to download the demo, and while I don't think its terribly groundbreaking, its nice to see electronic instruments with 3 dimensional control of rhythm, amplitude, and timbre with such simple movements. Overall, I think its a good idea, with definite possibilities for mass appeal. I want an audiopad now....

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