Out of MIT comes a composition and performance instrument for electronic music which tracks the positions of objects on a tabletop surface and converts their motion into music.
The Audiopad is being developed by a pair of MIT grad students, James Patten and Ben Recht. It is an application of earlier work they’ve done on new computer interfaces.
A video projector placed above a table is used to project the computer screen onto the table. The table is a custom table that has sensors built into it. These sensor track the placement of several “pucks”, which are colorful plastic disks. When the disks are moved, the sensors in the table relay the information to the computer, so the computer can track their placement.
They’ve developed a sampler/sequencer that can be controlled using the interface. The pucks control various aspects of the audio tracks that make up a piece of music. As pucks are moved, the projector displays graphics that give feedback on the performer’s movements.
“It’s more expressive than a laptop interface (for creating electronic music),” says Patten, 26. “It’s easier to improvise a more expressive style of play. Because it’s physical, there’s also a dynamic that engages the audience. They can actually see what the performer is doing.”
You can see a video of a performance and find out more about Audiopad at MIT’s site.