A new technology developed by researchers in Britain and France could add a novel audio aspect to interactive digital out-of-home media.
Called Mogees, it enables any surface to be transformed into a musical instrument simply by placing a contact microphone on it and connecting speakers.
Said Bruno Zamborlin of Goldsmiths College, London, who will be speaking about Mogees in the free learning programme at next month’s Screenmedia Expo: “Through pattern recognition and audio synthesis techniques, the system can distinguish between different types of touch on the surface near the microphone and so be able to associate them with different playback sounds.
“Mogees is able to learn from the performer. Users can record different sounds, such as tapping and rubbing in different ways and using different physical objects, such as a pencil and keys for example, and associate each type of touch with a different musical instrument because of the different sound it makes.”
For instance, he said, “tapping with a fork into a glass can trigger marimba chords while rubbing with nails on the table top might trigger the sound of water waves”.
The technology could be employed to add an unusual audio dimension to digital out-of-home media. For example, just as interactive screens using games to promote brands are sometimes linked to large displays so that audiences in the immediate vicinity can watch how a participant is faring, they could also hear the music that he is “playing” – perhaps on the surfaces of the very products that are being promoted.
“Contact microphones are designed to sense audio vibrations through solid objects without picking up the sound from the air. This allows Mogees to be used everywhere, at the bus station, in the train or at home. Furthermore, contact microphones are cheap and the software requires low computational power so that it can easily be run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets,” said Zamborlin, who also works with Ircam Centre Pompidou (pictured), the famed Parisian centre of cutting-edge music research founded by composer Pierre Boulez.
Screenmedia Expo runs 16-17 May at Earls Court in London; Zamborlin speaks at 10am on the second day.