Hereâ€™s a full description of how the Reactable works taken directly from the websiteâ€¦
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 JordÃ . 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:
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.