Tangible Music @ TEDxViennaOctober 24

On October 22nd I had the opportunity to talk at the TEDxVienna conference, where I presented the basic concepts of Tangible Musical Interfaces that led us to the development of the Reactable. This included a brief introduction into the design history of acoustic and electronic musical instruments and the problem of controlling complex synthesizers with standard tools. Our solution employs the ideas of tangible interfaces in order to realize an instrument that combines physical interaction with auditory and visual feedback. The talk concludes with a brief description of the Reactable itself and our contribution to the design of tangible interactive surfaces.

During the conference we also had the opportunity to organize a small showcase, where in addition to the Reactable two works from our latest Interface Culture exhibition were presented. The exhibited works were FMR1 by Fabrizio Lamoncha, Ioan Cernei & Maša Jazbec as well as the GearBox by Ulrich Brandstätter & Oliver Buchtala

ceci n’est pas un code QRJanuary 13

ceci n'est pas un code QR

nfOSC: OSC tool for RFID readersDecember 28

In order to simplify the development tasks for my Tangible User Interface class at the Interface Culture lab in Linz, I just released a new tool for tangible interaction. nfOSC adds touchatag reader. When an RFID tag is placed onto such a device, the application sends a simple OSC message to the configured UDP port, an equivalent OSC message is sent when the tag is removed. The code is based on the libnfc and liblo libraries, and is available for download on this google code project page. This page also includes an example project for Pure Data demonstrating its basic capabilities. I am planning to include this functionality into reacTIVision, as soon as TUIO2 will become available. Alternatively nfOSC already includes an experimental implementation of the TUIO2 Symbol message in order to demonstrate its capabilities.

playing with google insightsNovember 9

Since I have been observing an increased public interest in the topic of augmented reality, which has been most certainly caused by the various mobile AR apps that have been appearing lately, I was using the google insights feature to verify the actual trend. Interesting enough playing with the results also showed the overall decline of the interest in virtual reality for example. Adding a few other HCI trends and hypes, it seems that around 2007 there has been a shift towards some alternative HCI topics. This turnaround seems to be also supported by this selection of input devices (excluding the mouse). Finally we can also observe a similar trend comparing the various user interface paradigms. So the traditional GUI and VR are apparently out, while touch interfaces and AR show increased popularity, although both topics have already been around well before that. Apparently the limited size and increased computing power of mobile devices supported most of these alternative interfaces, taking advantage of features such as multitouch, shaking gestures, camera tracking and the location services.

ICMI Workshop BerlinSeptember 8

After an intense weekend at the Ars Electronica festival I traveled to Berlin to attend the ICMI Workshop, where I was invited to hold the keynote speech on Tangible Musical Interfaces this year. There were quite a lot of interesting student presentations about innovative musical interfaces, and at the end of the workshop we had the difficult task to select one of the projects for a prize, which we sponsored on behalf of Reactable Systems. In the end we decided to split the prize in order to award the two most outstanding creations. The Attract-O-Tron by Frederik Kalisch and Steffen Müller are two exceptionally well designed hand-held musical artifacts, which generate sound using electric motors. The GRID table by Tobias Hornberger convinced through its thorough synthesizer and composition concept, which was realized using colored building blocks. Apart from these two awarded projects I’d like to mention some further brilliant projects, such as the the Air Piano by Omer Yosha, the Squawk controller by Dennis Helfrich as well as the Looplex table interface by Marcus Holzmayr.

Tangible Musical InterfacesApril 17

Finally I finished the long overdue update of my listing of Tangible Musical Interfaces where I have been collecting some quite remarkable projects within the growing area of tangible interfaces for music. Most of the examples have been selected because of their overall relation to the reactable in some way, but the new site also attempts to group the various instruments into music tables, token based sequencers or musical artifacts for example. The collection includes a description of each project along with a short video clip.