Cigarette-Controlled Synthesizer Ziggybox

Ziggybox, by Christian Losert and Paul Schengber

At first glance, Ziggybox looks like an everyday item for smokers, which one could easily find in a living room. However, it is a synthesizer that generates and modulates sounds by placing cigarettes in the notch of an ashtray or by opening a box of cigarettes.

Through simple handling and without any prior knowledge of sound synthesis, Ziggybox enables the user to produce complex levels of synthesized music.

The aim of this project is to enable access and control of a complex, digital environment, which is not usually transparent and under-standable for the common visitor. Our intention is to show that it is possible to conceptualize the creative utilisation of computer software in a casual way, by an interface, which initially seems to be unsophisticated in its manipulation. With this, the user is able to easily approach and control the system functionality of Ziggybox.

As the use of everyday objects are familiar to all, the interface serves as an open and easily approachable invitation for use. With this type of interface, where digital and physical boarders are blurred, it helps to open up a new relationship between technology and humans.

The project utilised C++ and Open Frameworks as the basic platform. Included light-sensors control the sound synthesis. Our intention is also to give the colour arrangement a special importance and the objects on the box are arranged in order to reinforce the possibility of interaction with common objects.

In this video the box is used as a MIDI-controller connected to Ableton Live.

13 thoughts on “Cigarette-Controlled Synthesizer Ziggybox

  1. I was expecting something better, maybe something unusual like smoke sensors to control the system. This is just a "smoky" light sensor controller in a cute box :S

  2. It was posted on vimeo 12 days ago.

    It clearly shows some sort of proximity detector, I'm guessing infrared, on each notch of the ashtrays. Looks like those trigger different tracks of a loop. Not sure how opening the pack works, but it seems to effect the level of effects.

  3. For a cigarette synth, it's surprisingly reserved in it's tar consumption. It would have been better if he lit at least one, at the end. Maybe controlling the amp as he/it fades out. Anyhow, smoke 'em if you got 'em.

  4. I'd call this plausible. The bottom seems very thin so its not impossible that he somehow has a weight measuring in there which sends that signal to the laptop which then triggers certain stuff.

    But I'm also more inclined to call this an april fools joke. With stuff like this I always wonder what'd happen when a smoker comes along, taps and puts out his cigarette in such a device *g*

  5. I saw this controller at the ARS electronica exhibition in linz, austria. It's true. This controller works very well. If you had read the text you would know that every cigarette or cigarettebox are measured with fotosensors. In the end I think these information control Ableton Live. Nice tunes, by the way.

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