The Sound of Touch

A new instrument for real-time capture and sensitive physical stimulation of sound samples using digital convolution. Users operate a hand-held wand to record sound, then brush, scrape, strike or otherwise physically manipulate this sound against a "texture kit" of physical objects.

Enhanced Life

The Sound of Touch enables people to manipulate sound samples in a way that is much more immediate and intuitive than current digital tools. The system's technology and interface designs adopt characteristics of acoustic instruments, making samples that are recorded on-the-spot malleable and flexible through continuous gestural interaction with physical textures and resonant objects.

Goals

To demonstrate a system that gives children and adults a truly new way to interact with sound.

Innovations

The Sound of Touch builds on a technique for continuous digital convolution developed by Roberto Aimi for creation of semi-acoustic musical instruments. A stand-alone wand incorporates both a microphone for recording samples and a piezoelectric sensor for stimulating the samples. A "texture kit" enables sonic experimentation with a wide range of physical textures and resonant objects.

Vision

Because it makes sonic exploration so intuitive, a generation of musicians could adopt this system as their preferred synthesis technique in the next 10 years. Ultimately, the system could become a commercial product that would enable people to paint with sound wherever and whenever they want, either for professional sound-design projects or just for play.

Contact

David Merrill
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab
dmerrill (at) media.mit.edu

Contributors

Hayes Raffle
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab

Roberto Aimi
Alium Labs LLC