Aug 29, 2010

Propellerheads' Gigantic Outdoor Drum Machine: Another "Playful Interface" and Media Facade - using Phidgets!

I admit I have a passion for interactive media facades and playful outdoor interfaces. I'm geeky like that. Imagine my excitement when I saw the link to Propellerhead's outdoor drum machine that was taken out "in the wild" at night in Stockholm, Sweden, for people to play with!   Thanks, Ben Ullman, for the link!

"No Swede would every think of doing something like this without a permit."

I especially like that the team used Phidgets to create this drum machine.  Phidgets enable you to hook up a mix of digital or analog sensors to a USB interface.  According to a post on Create Digital Music, the interface below was supported by a Phidget 8/8/8 interface hooked to a computer, and a force sensor under the pad. The team used a Phidget Voltage divider to make the scaling and calibration magic happen.   (I had a chance to get my hands on some Phidgets, briefly, when I took Heather Richter Lipford's Ubicomp class at UNC-C a few years ago.  I would love to play with them in-depth in the future.)

Behind the Scenes of Propellerheads' Oversized Drum Machine
Peter Kirn , Create Digital Music, 8/26/10
Propellerhead Reason (Virtual studio rack)

What are Phidgets? Here is the info from the Phidgets website:

"Phidgets are a set of "plug and play" building blocks for low cost USB sensing and control from your PC. All the USB complexity is taken care of by our robust API. Applications can be developed quickly by programmers using their favorite language: C/C++, C#, Cocoa, Delphi, Flash AS3, Flex AS3, Java, LabVIEW, MATLAB, Max/MSP, MRS, Python, REALBasic, Visual Basic.NET, Visual Basic 6.0, Visual Basic for Applications, Visual Basic Script, and Visual C/C++/Borland.NET. Click on Programming if you want to look at Getting Started Guides or Code Samples."

Here is a version of a similar giant sampler in action at a Family Force 5 performance:

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