Synth With Unique Tabletop Interface

Modular synth is controlled by moving objects around on a translucent round table      30/10/06
Synth With Unique Tabletop Interface


Continuing in our endeavour to bring you the strangest musical instruments whenever we come across them, we bring you the Reactable, a musical instrument with a user interface that anyone ought to be able to understand – you simply move objects on a table to control it. It has been developed by a team at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona Spain – check out the 'media' page of their website listed below for some cool videos of the Reactable in action.
Here’s a full description of how the Reactable works taken directly from the website…
The reactable, is a state-of-the-art multi-user electro-acoustic music instrument with a tabletop tangible user interface. Several simultaneous performers share complete control over the instrument by moving physical artefacts on the table surface and constructing different audio topologies in a kind of tangible modular synthesizer or graspable flow-controlled programming language.
The instrument was developed by a team of digital luthiers under the direction of Dr. Sergi Jordà. The "Interactive Sonic Systems" team is working in the Music Technology Group within the Audiovisual Institute at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona Spain. Its main activities concentrate on the design of new musical interfaces, such as tangible music instruments and musical applications for mobile devices.
The reactable intends to be:
  • collaborative: several performers (locally or remotely)
  • intuitive: zero manual, zero instructions
  • sonically challenging and interesting
  • learnable and masterable (even for children)
  • suitable for novices (installations) and advanced electronic musicians (concerts)
The reactable hardware is based on a translucent round table. A video camera situated beneath, continuously analyzes the table surface, tracking the nature, position and orientation of the objects that are distributed on its surface, representing the components of a classic modular synthesizer. These objects are passive without any sensors or actuators, users interact by moving them, changing their position, their orientation or their faces (in the case of volumetric objects). These actions directly control the topological structure and parameters of the sound synthesizer. A projector, also from underneath the table, draws dynamic animations on its surface, providing a visual feedback of the state, the activity and the main characteristics of the sounds produced by the audio synthesizer.
More information:

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