If you want new ideas about design and interaction, ask a musician. Before the Wii remote, the iPhone, Microsoft’s Surface, and Minority Report, musicians were trying oddball ideas for music performance. That hasn’t slowed down, either, from the futuristic and space-y to down-and-dirty acoustic techniques. We’ve got quite a gamut coming up for our madcap, sound and noise-packed hour of competition happening this Saturday at NASA’s Ames Research center during Yuri’s Night, and we’d love to share them with everyone online.

For starters, here’s the rundown of the projects with links to project sites and artists, and all the judges:

Futuristic Music Design Challenge: Meet the Competitors, Judges

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The projects: the Bubblegum Sequencer (previously on CDM), The Box custom hardware with colored lights + Reaktor ensemble, the surface-temperature tangible interface table Weather Report (previously on CDM), the strange polygonal Kromatron wireless instrumental interface, the Thimbletron gloves-as-samplers with lab coated performers project (previously on CDM), the bicycle wheel and analog tape Looping Pedal (previously on CDM), the computer-powered musical saw WaveSaw, the 28-string just-intoned microtonal casmolyra, the turntablist custom software ammoBox and the GrooveStep DS pattern maker (previously on CDM).

I’m also pleased to announce…

The judges:

  • Roger Linn, father of the modern drum machine (in my opinion, anyway) and creator of the MPC60 for Akai, plus recent creations — and he plays the mandolin
  • Liz Enthusiasm, lead singer of Freezepop (check out their albums or just play a Harmonix game) and evidently an expert on Dr. Pepper
  • (Matt) Ganucheau, a mastermind of Yuri’s Night’s music and art, a composer and sound designer (and teacher of sound design for games), an electronic musician, and creator of the NSFW "foreplay robot" Moaning Lisa
  • … and yours truly as emcee

Speaking of Roger Linn, Tom at Music Thing just posted an auction on the pre-Akai prototype.

Hopefully we’ll get to do some quick interviews with the judges, as well, for Planet CDM. Stay tuned on

  • ian

    whatever happened to hp's djammer?

  • all innovative ideas flow from those awesomely impossible touch screens in minority report.

  • @ian: No idea. Like many experimental research projects, it may have simply died. Too many things can happen — loss of interest, funding, personnel working on it, support, or there just isn't someone actively sustaining it.

    @lost: It was a major moment, no doubt. And the fellow who designed them for the movie has worked on actual prototypes; i.e., part of what made that movie special is they went to real experts to show them how bright the near future could be.

  • Michael

    I went to the contest and it was amazing. Next time, could we group some of the contestants together and make them jam?

  • Michael I think that sounds pretty fun whether thats part of the contest or something completely different!

    As part of the contest it may or may not work, depending on a bunch of different factors– nonetheless, it would be cool to have a big custom interface improvisation session…

  • Bit of Futuristic Music Vid

  • Bit of Futuristic Music Vid