Friday, July 20, 2012

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Amazing music box for iPad: classic and modern

How about synchronising your physical music box with your digital iPad? The idea seems wild but Joelle Aeschlimann at ECAL has done just that. So what is this music box? It consists of a physical part made of three separate music boxes to interact with an iPad. When you place it on the device and start turning the lever, music is generated as well as some visual animation.

Joelle says the aim is to give a new dimension to the music box, and transcribe visual sensations that don’t exist in a standard music box. This meant that Joelle had to overcome different technical challenges. (see pictures below)

a) Conductive materials detectable by the capacitive screen of the iPad.
b) Accuracy of the music boxes, a very delicate matter.

The music boxes were constructed using conductive rubber tips from commercially available pens. The first prototype was entirely produced in metal: a simple metal cylinder with a hole to pass the crank. To differentiate touch materials between analogue and digital, Joelle finally settled to make the music boxes in wood. Made of two pieces, in between lies a strip of metal of a finger’s height for the conductivity. The crank is attached to an axis connected to a metal plate where the two rubber tips are placed. Finally, a spring is placed to allow better adhesion of the rubber tips on the iPad. This allow the pressure of the rubber tips to be more adapted, and so to not impede the rotation of the crank while being strong enough to be detected by the iPad. 
The position and rotation of the two rubber tips on the iPad allows the application to know the position of the box and to calculate the rate at which animations and sounds will be played. To distinguish the several music boxes, rubber tips are placed at different distances.

One last thing about the software side, the adobe air for iOS software recognizes when pressure is applied to the iPad. Thus a classic pastime has been brought into the modern world by way of the tablet. Apple fans would be pleased by this as it shows there are ways of not being always sealed behind a sheet of glass.

Little Boxes is a music box concept for iPad. It consists of a tangible part composed of three separate music boxes that interact with an iPad and an application. When placing one of the boxes on the iPad, it recognizes it and activates. The idea is that each box contains its own universe revealed by the action of the crank with an animation and melody proper to each. The aim is to give a new dimension to the music box, and transcribe visual sensations that don't exist in a standard music box. This work reflects my desire to play with the physical and digital elements by making them interact. It allowed me to embrace different areas, and confront myself with creative and technical challenges. The result is the creation of a world through the music box, where everyone can enter and interact with it.
creative applications