Turn Any Surface Into A Touch-Sensitive Instrument With A $US20 Microphone

Turn Any Surface Into A Touch-Sensitive Instrument With A $US20 Microphone

My desk is boring. My walls are boring. My windows are boring. I need to liven them up by turning them into musical instruments that detect and recognise my touch. Fortunately, that’s cheaper and easier than it sounds.

This video shows off Mogees, an interactive gestural-based way of turning any surface into a real-time, wacky musical instrument.

It uses a single, cheap contact microphone, which you can attach to any surface: plate glass, tables, trees, balloons, whatever. It will work best with something fairly solid but, as the video shows, it copes just fine with being attached to something squidgy like a balloon, too.

Once attached, the microphone can detect the proximity and type of movement which hands and objects make when they touch the surface in question. Some smart software models the detected sound and matches it up to a sample in its database, producing the weird and wonderful noises you hear in the video.

I’m a fan of the squelchy, wobbly samples that get picked up when it’s attached to the balloon, but I also like the idea of my finger tapping making a real — if slightly amateur — contribution to the music I’m listening to. That drum solo in Moby Dick will never sound the same again. For which I’m sorry.

The contact mic that Bruno Zamborlin, the developer of the system, used costs about $US20. He’s also planning to release the software soon. My office is about to get much more interesting. [Bruno Zamborlin via Slashdot]