Hyperacoustic Instruments ("Scratch Input")
is a brief biography on the inventor, Steve Mann; and also
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on the inventor.
- Invention title: Hyperacoustic Instruments ("Scratch Input")
- Summary explanation -- how it works:
With this invention, we can turn any object into a musical instrument!
We can also outfit any smartphone, computer, car dashboard, or
aircraft cockpit, to make it sonically responsive, for hands-free
operation so that instead of looking at a button, you
can hear the button exactly in the way you touch,
press or twist it. This allows head-up operation of complex
controls in mission-critical operations.
More generally, we can turn any surface into a user-interface for
multimedia computing and data input!
For musical applications, hyperacoustic instruments
are a class of truly acoustic, yet computational musical instruments.
These interfaces and instruments are based on physiphones
(where the initial sound-production is physical rather than virtual),
which have been outfitted with computation and tactuation,
such that the final sound delivery is also physical.
The result is a highly-expressive musical instrument
that gives a "sweet sound" and "sweet feel" for customers.
- Example commercial applications:
•Low-cost manufacturing of expressive musical instruments
for sale in mass markets.
This technology allows us, for example, to turn blocks of wood
or plastic which normally produce a dull "thud" when hit,
into a beautiful-sounding, well-tuned musical instrument.
Each block sounds with one note of a scale, when it's hit.
This can be a DIY kit, or can be manufactured all-complete,
for sale to
childrens' parks, musical instrument stores, etc..
The manufacturing cost is greatly reduced,
by using ordinary materials as
a playing surface. Our technology turns those cheap,
ordinary materials into a beautiful-sounding musical instrument,
that can also be made extremely durable and vandal resistant.
•High-end musician market: A musician's control surface that
the studio or musician can project onto any
surface (positioning a projector-camera device that would be sold),
and that surface can be played directly,
and interacted with due to tactile feedback.
We have created features such as feedback vibrotactility,
and sensory fusion with computer-vision and acoustic pickups.
This device can be
used in live concerts, and in the studio recording industry.
In another example, a single plank of wood,
which normally makes a dull "thud" sound when hit,
is turned into a continuous-pitch xylophone in which the initial
sound production originates xylophonically
(i.e. as vibrations in wood),
as input to a computational user-interface.
But rather than using a loudspeaker to
reproduce the computer-processed
sound, the final sound
delivery is also xylophonic (i.e. the same wood
itself is set into
mechanical vibration, driven by the computer output).
This xylophone, which we call the ``Xyolin'', produces continuously
variable pitch like a violin.
It also covers more than 10 octaves, and includes
the entire range of human hearing, over its 122 centimeter length,
logarithmically (1 semitone per centimeter).
•Other examples include pagophones
in which initial sound generation occurs in ice, and final sound
output also occurs in the ice.
•Smartphones, computers, car dashboards, and aircraft cockpits,
outfitted with this technology to make it sonically responsive,
for hands-free operation so that instead of looking at a
button, you can hear the button exactly in
the way you touch, press or twist it. This allows head-up
operation of complex controls in critical operations.
- Links to technical papers associated with the invention:
Making a badly tuned or unpitched instrument play in perfect harmony.
•This invention is also called "scratch input", a highly successful and
vibrant field of research and practice that we founded through the
- Patent applications filed or issued:
US Pat. 8017858.
Additional patents in-progress.
- Prototypes constructed: Several working prototypes have been constructed by S. Mann, R. Janzen, and research team.
- This invention is jointly developed by S. Mann and Ryan Janzen, who would be equal partners in commercialization efforts. The hyperacoustics invention can be extended and deepened, if desired, by including a few other developers who are already skilled in the art of hyperacoustics.
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