The Tetrafol – A Handheld Tetrahedral Sound Toy

The Tetrafol is a hand-held tangible electronic sound toy, created by Fol Chen.

Circuits enclosed by a wooden tetrahedron detect orientation and motion-gestures to modify the playback of a collection of Fol Chen’s micro-compositions, allowing the user to explore sound through physical manipulation.

The battery-powered device has its own internal speaker but can additionally be hooked up to a headphone or amplifier.

Hardware and software source code available here

4 thoughts on “The Tetrafol – A Handheld Tetrahedral Sound Toy

  1. Again, another gimmicky thing that is doing nothing more than mapping input to parameters that already exist. Which means, it offers nothing new. Maybe this kind of control is exciting to some people. For me, it’s no more expressive (and frankly less so) than traditional controllers. The important thing is to remember that it is *only* a controller! There are no new sonic capabilities from any of these devices; only a bundling of simultaneous control streams driving the same hardware/software you’ve always had.

    Figure any 3D device offers 6 input axis. There are three for the physical location of the controller object in space (x,y,z) and three more for the rotation of the object around it’s three axis. Pick a range, like 5 feet in any direction, put the object in the center of that range, pick 6 parameters to map (filter cutoff, reverb depth, etc) and start wiggling.

    What you gain is the ability to move all of those at once without needing 6 knobs or three XY pads. But what you loose is precision and recall… like think about setting that device down. It would slam all 6 of those parameters to one of their extremes, which is often not pleasant to hear. Systems like the Reactable get around this by having a fixed location in space, and thereby a fixed set of “reasonable” sonic results, as long as the control device stays within those bounds.

    In the end, I think the sound design of the driven devices would be more of a factor in “sonic wow” than a performance using one of these devices.

  2. just got my tetrafol as a xmas gift from my beautiful wife, let me say that it is an amazing machine, handmade with love and u can easily replace the samples with your own. perfect for live performance or just a center piece for your modern home.

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