Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Bubblegum Sequencer - Making Music With Candy

While looking for inspirations for the group project, I came across this brilliant and intuitive TUI music device. The Bubblegum Sequencer uses a grid that reads "gumballs" that are associated with different beats or special effect sounds. By manipulating and reorganizing the balls on the grid, the user can easily create various sequence of beats. The TUI allows a direct, visual approach to composing music.

A camera is located under the grid to recognize the gumball placements. Once the computer connected to the camera detects the positioning and color of each ball, it reads their sequence and identity and plays them accordingly.

This unique device introduces a grid system that can help us arrange our music bubbles. Sequencing music clips and connecting them under a united rhythm are two of our possible tasks for the project. And the ideas from the "Bubblegum Sequencer" inspires me to find a physical or digital grid that could read different music clips (instead a single beat) and interlock them to create a smooth music mashup. I look forward to the challenge.

Bubble Pop Electric - Proposal Summary

The "Bubble Pop Electric" is a fashion-forward, futuristic music suit that attempts to bridge the gap between the independent components of a musical performance. Inspired by Lady GaGa and other avant garde performers of contemporary music, the suit enhances the user's ability to not only control her music but also the theatrical components of the environment.

The suit is composed of three major components:

1. Bubble tokens: the plastic bubble tokens will each carry a resistor and LED that will be activated once it is attached to the body suit. They will initiate different music clips.

2. Stretchable body suit: The stretchable body suit will hold the activation surface for the bubble tokens and also provide the circuit for the LEDs. Also, it will read the user's movement and distort the playback accordingly. It will also carry bluetooth speakers on the shoulders.

3. Drum shoes: The shoes will be attached to vibration sensors that will detect the feet's movement and create drum beats.

Also, there will be a main computer acting as a receptor. It will have a software that will read, arrange, and play the input from the resistors. The exact direction for the programming aspect of the project is still in the process of discussion. However, we envision a system that will effectively sequence music clips (maybe create an array of Strings that represent certain music clips?).

The "Bubble Pop Electric" will be a fun, experimental device for musicians, performers, or any music friendly users who look forward to a more controlling, holistic performance equipment. It allows direct manipulation of music selection and body-aligned control, which will provide much freedom and an entertaining interface device.

References include "Musical B-boying: A Wearable Musical Instrument by Dancing." This TUI device attaches wireless accelerators to dancers' shoes and register different movements to different soundtracks to generate motion sensored music. It is a great inspiration to creating the stretchable body suit, which aims to read the body's movement and produce different musical effects.

And here is the scanned image of what I envision for the final look:

The design of the costume is open to technical and artistic improvements/changes. Our biggest concerns are the arrangement of bubbles-how to determine their sequence and how their placements are to be read.  Also we have to determine the vibration sensors are to be attached to the circuits in the body suit or to carry bluetooth chip. Financial needs and affordability are integral parts to the project; therefore, we also need to discuss the most economical approach to production.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lady Gaga - Poker Face by Applegirl (ver. I-Phone Apps)

I was first fascinated by how quick and easy it was for her to create background music using four iPhones. With the help of different applications, she had full control of beats and short music phrases that allowed her to make music that was polished and presentable- and also, GAGA. The iPhones simulated a piano and the drums. It also functioned as a mike that distorted and digitized the voice. Both touch and voice sensors were incorporated in the activity, and the user seemed comfortable with the setup that acted as a metaphor for a complete band.

The TUI project for my team will focus around creating a wearable device that will enable the user to make and manipulate music. We aim to create a TUI that is intuitive and easy to use and also that incorporates the entire body as an instrument, not just the tips of your finger. This video was a great inspiration for me and convinced me that an application that is even more aligned with your physical behaviors will create more room for musical creativity and freedom.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology

The "Sixth Sense" TUI has been developed at the MIT Media Lab under Pranav Mistry and Pattie Maes and was presented at 2009 Ted conferences. The major goal of this fascinating device is to bring the digital world closer to the physical world by getting rid of extra digital objects such as an iPhone or a computer and using the already available objects around you and reusing them as interfaces. The device takes form of a simple necklace consisted a mirror, camera, and projector and colored caps to go on your fingers. This way, the "Sixth Sense" allows you to manipulate both physical and digital information with your natural physical behaviors. Without having to carry a computer screen or any standard digital interfaces, the entire world around you becomes a desktop or an application screen. The Sixth Sense can perform various tasks: from creating digital art works on a random wall you find on the streets to dialing a call on your palm. You can even take a photo simply by gesturing a camera with your four fingers. The incredible flexibility to move between applications and even between various types of interfaces (computer screen to a piece of paper with printed texts) breaks the boundaries that we often find on the standard computer screen. This device allows total control over the vast pool of information by making them available anytime and anywhere.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Navigational Blocks Analysis

I used the two frameworks introduced in papers "Reality Based Interaction" and "TAC Paradigm" to analyze the "Navigational Blocks" TUI.

TAC Paradigm Analysis

The Navigational Blocks TUI is structured mainly based on the Token and Constraint (TAC) paradigm with elements of the Constructive Assemblies category. It consists of four wooden blocks, which play as both token and constraint, an active space-the permanent constraint platform, and the computer screen that displays the feedback to the query created by the two previous tools. The six sides of each wooden block is coupled with a topic and five related subtopics to represent the variables and information in the digital database.

The user, either by simply specifying a variable with a single block or by attaching two blocks and creating an "and" relationship between two variables, sends a query to be retrieved from the computer. In both cases, the TUI functions as a tangible query interface where the user manipulates the block(s) to control the feedback.

However, the two instances also show a difference. In the first case, the block performs as a token and the active space functions as the only constraint. In response to the block's variable, the display screen retrieves feedback. In the second case, computational building takes place. By presenting two blocks or two variables on the active space, the blocks become each others' constraint. This relationship is recognized through a haptic response: the blocks attach magnetically and build together if the query exists. If the two variables don't construct a valid query, they repel each other. Depending on user manipulation, the TUI can function as a tangible query interface with the structure of a typical TAC paradigm or a Constructive Assembly.

RBI Analysis

The Navigational Blocks TUI clearly embodies the concept of a Reality-Based Interaction (RBI) by eradicating the use of virtual icons and menus and creating a tangible search engine to navigate through digital information. The virtual world can be manipulated with physical tools and more direct user approach through this device. In attempting to bring together the virtual world and the physical world, certain themes of reality are emphasized and others are repressed.

The manipulation of the Navigational Blocks TUI emphasizes different kinds of human skills, especially that of environmental awareness. The user needs to be familiar with the function of a block object from picking it up to rotating and positioning it to the active space. Also, the development of the "self" is required, as the Block variable facing the user, not touching the active space, is to be read by the TUI.

The Blocks also ask for a learned understanding of naive physics and multiple behaviors. Once a Block has been placed on the active space, it can be coupled with another Block's variable depending on their relationship. For example, the "women" variable can be coupled with "early 18th century" variable to create a new variable representing the "women of early 18th century." This relationship is recognized based on the physics of magnetic attraction or repulsion between the Blocks. Once the relationship is established, the Blocks can mimic the function of a computer mouse and be slid back and forth to access the requested feedback.

This magnetic relationship is designed for novice users where reality is emphasized over efficiency and users need to discover the preexisting relationship through a trial-and-error process. However, some complex involvement is helpful to eliminate unnecessary trials. The users are asked to read and differentiate the "topic" from the"subtopics" presented in each block and make educated guesses to set up different queries. This function limits accessibility to people who can read and also recognize patterns.

The expressive power and versatility is subdued for the sake of simplicity as the display screen is limited to one query and one feedback at a time.This system also lacks continuous interaction as screen information is static until the user performs another action.

The Navigational Blocks TUI balances themes of reality and advanced functionality to create a search tool that is simple enough to approach but also complex enough to experiment with.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The TUI Project

This is a blog dedicated to CS 320 Tangible User Interface class.