The Holy Grail of Electronic Music

Developed by MIT students Ben Recht and James Patten, the Audiopad is a radical approach to creating and manipulating music. The user interaction is similar to what we saw in Minority Report. The musical components, samples and synthesizer inputs are represented by objects on the pad; and the acoustic characteristics such as waveforms, filters, compression and special effects are all controlled by moving the objects on the pad. People familiar with devices like the KAOSSPAD or LEMUR will immediately grab the idea. The video will give you a better idea on how the user interacts with the device; and to top that, the interface design and the fancy animations are notoriously clever.The pad itself is a matrix of radio devices associated to the controller objects on the surface. The pad applies tabletop motion detection, and the input values are assigned to the acoustic parameters of the particular object. The Audiopad’s design greatly reduces production time and gives previously unimagined control over sound.The Audiopad software is based on linux. Debian, to be specific. Lower level programs for tasks such as device tracking and the MIDI controller functions were written using C and C++; and the rest of it, including the OpenGL GUI, is written in Python. The display itself, is a custom overhead projection.

The Audiopad tabletop is based on a project called The Sensetable. Since the tabletop concept is a relatively simple idea which can be used in many applications, it has been approached by several electronics manufacturers. The creators themselves, being music enthusiasts, are more interested in keeping the Audiopad just as the Audiopad, and they have said a word or two about their interest in developing a commercial product.

Lastly, the Audiopad is not a very recent project. It has been around since mid 2003. There were several installations and demo sessions. But since then, there has not been any publications by the team; and they also assure that the project is still going on.

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