Androidcontrollerism: Hardware Options on Android, in Detail; Android Player Piano

Adding hardware to tablets, as it has with decades of computing technology, can open up new worlds for software and music. It can animate a conventional piano, or provide new physical interfaces for touching music. But let’s not wait for it to happen; let’s get hacking. Following on today’s line of thinking about hardware-augmented touch, I’d like to look a bit at the recently-transformed landscape on Android. iOS users can connect to external hardware via the Core MIDI protocol or, via official channels, through the Apple Dock Connector. That’s not a perfect situation, however. Hardware developers have to be approved …


Touch, Plus Tactile: In Gaming as in Research, Physical Controls Augment Touchscreens

The gaming industry has made their bet, and it’s that touchscreens go better with tactile controls. Might digital musicians reach the same conclusion? A funny thing has happened on the way to the touch era. The vision of a device like the iPad is minimalist to the extreme: an uninterrupted, impossibly-slim metal slate, as impenetrable as some sort of found alien scifi object. The notion is that by reducing physical controls, the software itself comes to the fore. It’s beautiful conceptually … and then you find yourself tapping and stroking a piece of undifferentiated glass. For navigating interfaces – and …


Android Adds USB Host + Audio, Open Hardware ADK with Arduino; Good News for Mobile Music

Android just got a whole lot more interesting for hardware development. We can already run music apps and tools like Processing and (via libpd) Pure Data patches on Android. Now, you should soon be able to plug in joysticks, custom hardware, sensors, and other devices and make Android a go-anywhere live music and visual platform. Updated: USB audio class is in fact supported; awaiting other details. The new hardware APIs allow anyone to develop hardware accessories for Android, from individual DIYers all the way to brands. You don’t have to sign an NDA, and you don’t need a special hardware …


Brazilian Rhythms Meet Wireless, Wearable Drums in an Artist-Engineer Collaboration

Music made by machines need not turn its back on traditional musical skill – least of all when you literally strap the machines on the back of a master musician. In a fusion of Brazilian tradition and modern wireless, wearable sensor technology, Kyle McDonald shares with us a project that makes drums into an interactive suit. Kyle has plenty to say, including all the details on how to do this in case it inspires a project of your own, so I’ll let him take it away: The project is a wireless drum suit that I built with Lucas Werthein for …


Combining Gloves with Kinect, Gestural 3D Modeling Shows Promise

We live in three-dimensional worlds, and physically we can move easily through 3D space. But mapping our intuitive sense of space, movement, and position to the computer is a massive challenge. Our interfaces are primarily two-dimensional, and even the three-dimensional interfaces may lack the kind of sense of space that comes naturally to a child. Sebastian Pirch writes with a new project combining an array of open source tools to enable gestural modeling in 3D space. The heady brew of tools: a simple mesh modeller that uses KINECTs depth perception and homemade data gloves for a more real world oriented …


Rock Robots: PAM Can Seriously Shred, Open Source MARIE Could Do Even More

The first law of musical robotics: rock hard. We’ve seen plenty of robotic musical experiments, but finding a robot that can seriously shred is another matter altogether. Meet the robotic string instrument, Poly-tangent, Automatic (multi-) Monochord – let’s just call her PAM. Built by Expressive Machines Musical Instruments, a group of University of Virginia PhD students and composers, PAM is capable of creating raucous musical performances like the one above, by composer and EMMI member Steven Kemper. Musical robotics is cool, but it also hasn’t evolved much technologically in fifty years. It’s gotten cheaper and more accessible, but the fundamental …


Pretty Wifi Lights Sync to Music, DJs, Thanks to Open Source Hardware and Software

Open source for the sake of it is one thing. This is open source hardware and software for the sake of making lighting more awesome. Open source hardware is the basis of a sophisticated, wireless lighting rig. It’s already syncing to music with Pd, and automatic lighting control right from free DJ software may be next. With the effort of the open source music and visual communities, that could be just the beginning. The SaikoLED is a project for wirelessly-controlled color LED lighting, based on several open source (or partially open source) projects. It’s not cheap, as such, though I …


Meet Meeblip, The Open Source, Hackable Digital Hardware Synth

Making music, making blips and bleeps, turning knobs, plugging in keyboards, and having the freedom to modify your gear – these are good things. And that’s why I’m so excited that today is the day the MeeBlip launches. It’s been several years in development, but now it’s finally here. It’s a hardware box that makes noises – virtual analog synth noises, chip-sounding noises, good noises, bad noises, noises you can make into music. It’s got physical knobs and switches on it, plus a MIDI DIN in port so you can connect that keytar you bought on eBay. It’s also a …


An Absurdly Huge Moog Knob, and OSC Meets CV in Open Source Hardware

Moognify II from Combo Square on Vimeo. Here’s an antidote to the trend toward virtual knobs, touchscreens, and mobility: a big-ass, tangible knob bigger than your head. That may be a slightly impractical idea, but behind it is something absolutely practical: a simple, open source OpenSoundControl to Control Voltage interface. Unlike MIDI’s standard Control Change messages, OSC is capable of expressing quantities in a way that may be easily translated to the accuracy of CV. And once you’re in the realm of analog voltage, you can do all the things voltage does – including, as the creators do in their …


Pandora: Game Handheld with Real Linux, OpenGL ES, Video Out

For all the talk of Android and iOS, the lesser-known Pandora handheld has some juicy visual capabilities in a pocket form factor. You get decent specs (an ARM A8 core plus decent DSP), OpenGL ES 2.0 support, and – critical to making this a mobile visualist box – good, old-fashioned S-Video TV output. Production runs are limited now, but incredibly, using UK labor working in superb conditions the cost is just US$349 (330 EUR including VAT) – no contract with a phone company required. And, of course, you can play games with it, too. With two SD slots and USB …