Interaction in Thin Air: New Research from Microsoft, MIT Uses Magnets, Sound, Space

With multi-touch fully exploited and the basics of camera vision largely understood, interaction moves to the realm of free space, “augmenting” your world with gestures that find some physical connection. They surprise by working in some way that seems intuitive and natural, somewhere away from what seems to be the realm of the computer. And early in the month of May, we see a flurry of new research in just this area. Not one but two projects from Microsoft hold potential, and one from MIT Media Lab is just … absurdly cool. A summary: “Levitated Interaction Element,” out of the …

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worldsoundmix

A Small World, After All: Freesound.org Sounds on Earth, and an Ambient Musical Laboratory

Through the eyes of satellites, roving Google trucks, aerial imagery, and more, we have plenty of eyes on our planet. But what does it sound like here on Earth? In a Web application and accompanying art installation, the world turns as it echoes sounds recorded around the world on Creative Commons-licensed site Freesound.org. It’s stunning to hear our world’s acoustic diversity – in some strange way, even more than seeing it, in that sounds can instantly give you a sense of place and time. You can load a version on your browser or on the iPad; then, from the world’s …

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Designing the Sound of a Real Car: An Audi, from Silence to Noise [Video]

Hear the idea of creating a car sound, and you might imagine a sound designer working on a video game or film. Imagining that person producing a sound for an actual car could sound like a joke. But as today’s vehicles go silent – whisper-quiet electric cars to human-powered bicycles – the problem of imagining noises for them to make becomes deadly serious. Our brains are wired to respond quickly to sound, so when cars suddenly don’t make any noise, alerting us to their presence is a serious issue. Audi’s engineers are working on that problem in the video here …

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digitalwaveform

Last Chance to Help Moog Foundation Teach Art of Sound Science in Schools; Why it Matters

Science and art, physics and music, come together and come alive in one place. You know where. Photo (CC-BY) Mikael Altemark. We’re here today not just because people like synths, or electronic music, or even music itself, but because the advancement of technology depends on kids learning about science and math. That was certainly the history of Bob Moog himself. What he got as a student opened up the doors to the knowledge and interests that gave the world Moog synthesizers. Dr. Moog himself long credited his education – as a youngster at Bronx High School of Science in New …

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selbyfilm

For a Deaf Artist, The Process of Sound Art, Transformed: Short Film

Revealing a deeper understanding of what sound means in our world, how it works as “currency” and “ghost,” Performance Artist Christine Sun Kim explores sonic media without the benefit of hearing. She finds how to make its presence more physical, to find greater dimensions of movement, and to make a personal connection beyond what most of us might find in the everyday sense. As she describes it to NOWNESS: There are social norms surrounding sound that form our speech development and our way of handling sound with care. They’re so deeply ingrained that, in a sense, our identities cannot be …

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paperrecordplayer

A Record Player Made from Paper, as the FlexiDisc Lives; Thanks Be to Pythagoras

It’s not in any way digital – we’re in paper and needle territory – but clever design transforms packaging and notecard into playable music device. Create Transducer Music, anyone? Designer Kelli Anderson concocted a novel approach to the wedding invitation for her friends Karen and Mike: turn the paper invite into a playable sound device. The couple even made and recorded their own song for the occasion. (The story of the individuals is worth mentioning – Karen advocates for the rights of makers and coders and Mike is a Grammy-nominated engineer.) The device itself plays music without electricity or circuits. …

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More WebGL Fun: Use Shaders in a Browser, Play a Game with Fireflies

If your WebGL appetite still wants more 3D goodness in your browser, here are two additional examples since last week’s story. Via Tiago, Shadertoy is an in-browser renderer that allows you to edit shader code in GLSL (the basic language of an OpenGL GPU) and render it in-browser. The only bad news is that this project from 2009 may not have kept up with rapidly-changing browser specs; for me, 2D shaders worked perfectly on an NVIDIA 320M, but not anything 3D, in either Chrome or Firefox. But some of you know much more about this than I do, so have …

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foursquareglobe

Mobile Recording with SoundCloud: More Powerful, Less Buggy, Android + iOS, FourSquare Locations

Photo (CC-BY) John Fischer/stickergiant. Sometimes things look interesting even before you can fully grasp just what they mean. Such is the case, I think, with what’s happening with SoundCloud’s on-the-go tools. Now, back in the beginning of this service, I predicted it’d become the Flickr of audio, and I wasn’t alone. But it’s becoming something else, something that really involves mobility. The SoundCloud crew are out at South by Southwest, as good a gathering as any for the intersection of Web nerd culture with music and film. And they have something to show for it, too: they’re unveiling new Android …

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shareddreams

Meet the Music and Sound Oscar Nominees, and Learn from Hours of Info from Sonic Masters

Shared dreams, indeed: welcome to Hollywood. And in 2011, the music and soundscapes of blockbuster films suddenly seem very much like the future of our dreams, from ground-breaking surround sound to interactive music to scores combining low-fidelity and high – and one breaktakingly-terrific score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that stands on its own. The Internet, as the subject of one Oscar-nominated film, is full of short attention spans and flirts, social dysfunction and lust. But there’s another side of the Internet. Someone interested in finding expressive inspiration, in learning the craft of music and sound, can virtually apprentice …

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Frozen Sound, Milled into Sculpture: Reflection

Reflection II from Datdatdat / A. N. Fischer on Vimeo. Can a sound be a sculpture? While using a familiar technique – mapping frequency energies via a FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) analysis – Reflection has a transformative impact on the perception of a sound by translating it into three-dimensional, physical form. I’d been struck by this work before, but only just saw this documentation video, which does a nice job of conveying what the piece is about. Reflection II is an augmented sound data sculpture, which was inspired by and derived from the musical piece of the same title by …

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