This Amazing Gadget Turns Motion Into Music

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I wish I could see the look on the faces of musicians from 1,000 years ago if they could be brought to modern times to witness the AUUG. Instruments haven’t changed all that much over the centuries, but the AUUG Motion Synth transforms your iPhone or iPod touch into a fully-fledged musical instrument that plays notes and alters their sound through motion. In other words, motion becomes music.

“Using natural human movements to control sound via the Motion Synth is both intuitive and engaging. The Motion Synth’s movement-to-sound relationships can be configured to suit the experience level of the user, giving beginners an accessible nothing-sounds-bad musical experience, while also allowing professional musicians to create highly complex and expressive sounds,” says Joshua Young, founder of AUUG.

As you can imagine, building something this complex and making it work well was no small task: “Early experiments with the AUUG Motion Synth included using an app only, but this forced the player to continuously pay attention to adjusting their grip while changing orientations, and also reduced the dexterity with which they could trigger notes. This led to early prototypes of the AUUG grip that grasped the mobile device at its edges while ergonomically securing it to the hand,” Joshua says. “After many prototypes, we also realized that the lack of tactile feedback from the touch screen was reducing the accuracy with which notes could be triggered. Many other features of the physical design have gone through multiple iterations, and user feedback has been sought throughout in order to ensure that the system as a whole best serves the primary needs of musicians. Development of the AUUG app proceeded at the same time as that of the grip, which has helped to ensure that hardware and software features support each other at a deep level, rather than being adapted to each other and providing only superficial compatibility.”

But how did the idea for the AUUG develop in the first place? Prior to establishing AUUG, founder Joshua Young’s neuroscience research led him to Berlin. His love of acoustic music, which is rooted in the very immediate connection between musicians and their instrument, led to frustration when he came into contact with Berlin’s electronic music scene. Because the physical relationship between these electronic musicians and their sounds was so indirect, he couldn’t tell if they were performing live or checking their email. This inspired him to start tearing apart old music hardware to build interfaces that would give electronic musicians a more physical and expressive way of shaping their sounds that would be more compelling for both them and their audience. After many prototypes and design dead-ends, his work led to the easy-to-learn AUUG Motion Synth that allows beginners to rapidly engage in intuitive music making and professionals to exert greater control over their sounds and hardware.

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