Percussa micro super signal processor

Adorn your iPhone with audio, courtesy 3D printers Shapeways and an unusual use of the SoundCloud API to get at the data.

The content we watch on the Internet is, ultimately, just data. We view that data in fairly narrow, conventional ways, but there’s no reason that has to be the limit. In one of the more novel applications of the API for audio-storing service SoundCloud, one 3D printer is happily turning your music tracks and recordings into custom iPhone cases, each uniquely based on the waveform of your sounds.

This week in Austin at South by Southwest, SoundCloud was attracting attention with that notion, as partner manager Caroline Drucker showed off a custom case built from the sound of her walking across a train platform a pair of signature high heels. (It’s the U6 U-Bahnhof Schwartzkopffstraße, if you must know, specifically. The USA Today featured the footwear and the case. “Must’ve been the shoes.”)

Yes, Berlin, us North Americans can sport the scarf, too. SoundCloud’s Caroline shows off an iPhone case she made from a sound she made of footsteps, in a visual reminder that listening to the world and recording what you hear is always a good idea. (Speaking of which, I need to go scarf shopping … hmmm, maybe I can print it with an FFT …)

It’s primarily for fun, of course, but it does illustrate a point. Just having a smartphone along is enough to capture sound in all kinds of situations – don’t overlook the built-in mic. (Just make sure you’ve got ample focus on whatever you’re trying to record, since these mics are very vulnerable to background and ambient noise, and use an app that lets you record in a lossless format, making it more useful for musical sampling.) Odds are you’ve been in the situation Caroline was and – if you’re paying attention to your environment – got a great sound just walking around.

Here’s that original sound, as recorded with the iPhone SoundCloud app (equivalents are available for other platforms, too, so finally put that mic to use for something other than just calls):

Okay, not everyone wants a new iPhone case (or owns an iPhone), but you have to admit, this interface is cool. You go directly from a sound you’ve uploaded to a physical object. And they say music is intangible. (Seen here with a track of mine, though it does work nicely with a short, percussive sample like Caroline’s.)

And if you do want to sport your sounds on an iPhone case, check out the cool Shapeways app. (And this might just give you other 3D printing or laser-cutting ideas, so go for it.)

http://www.shapeways.com/creator/thevibe

More on some of the other SoundCloud news soon.

You can visit CDM’s editor on SoundCloud, of course. Lots of people send tracks, so if you share your work, send a note to go with it, please!