Future Watch: Sony Block Jam - Prototype Musical Thing-a-me-jig

I don’t know what it is but it is cool      08/11/05

Future Watch: Sony Block Jam - Prototype Musical Thing-a-me-jig
Block Jam on PSP anyone?

One of our Gas-Station.com regulars spotted this one on the Sony Computer Science Laboratory website. The site deals with technological projects and true to Sony's tradition of innovative design, Block Jam certainly looks innovative. While many of the projects are computer based by nature, this one also ties in with music as an interesting physical interface for the creation of musical sequences. Block Jam is a collaborative musical system for building novel musical phrases. The sound is controlled by arranging blocks with LED display on the top surface and power and data connectors on the sides. I'm quoting boffin speak here:
"Block Jam is a musical interface controlled by the arrangement of 25 tangible blocks. By arranging the blocks musical phrases and sequences are created, allowing multiple users to play and collaborate. The system takes advantage of both graphical and tangible user interfaces. Each block has a visual display and a combination of a gestural input and a click-able input. Each Block metaphorically contains a sound group that can be chosen via the gestural input, the click-able input changes a block functionally. Thus, musically complex and engaging configurations can be rapidly assembled. The tangible nature of the blocks and the intuitive interface promotes face-to-face collaboration, and the presence of the GUI allows for remote collaboration across a network. By creating both a tangible and a visual language, we are able to create endless meaningful musical structures in a novel and intuitive way that predisposes itself to collaboration and exploration, face to face or via a network, pushing interactive music towards the casual user."
    The goals for Block Jam are:
  • To create a collaborative musical interface.
  • To explore the idea that simple interface elements such as a block, can allow an inexperienced user to create a complex musical experience that is engaging for both the musical novice and the musically adept.
  • Exploration and creativity where music is not first composed and then listened to, but interactively arranged and re-arranged from the elements at hand to blur the boundaries between the performer, composer and audience.
There’s a downloadable movie demonstrating Block Jam 'in the lab' that is the best way to see what it is currently capable of.
  • http://www.csl.sony.co.jp/IL/projects/blockjam/downloads/BlockJam_0.mov

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