You can only hear this album if you hack it

Band takes unique approach to debuting music

Hey guys! I just came out with a new album, but you can’t hear it unless you’re able to hack the wall it’s hidden behind.

Head_Scratcher_Monkey

Yes, that seems to be the marketing approach behind promoting the new album from Netcat, a Seattle-based electronic band. You see, the group’s latest drop, entitled “Cycles Per Instruction”, was released on Github, but only to those who are able to “hack” its contents; that is, in order to hear their newest songs, listeners need to have a working knowledge of the Linux operating system.

a2518472733_2

Why the focus on computer software? Well, the band actually uses a fairly technical setup for their music, including 8 to 10 laptops, an instrumented WiFi network, statistical language models, speech synthesis software, and a synth-based on computer vision algorithms. To make sure the level of complication associated with their music carried over to the release of their latest album, the band decided to use a loadable kernel module for the Linux operating system. The alternative was a custom hardware schematic, but their love of software point them back to something less physical.

860637ee-0dbc-40b0-bedd-50e46ceb5708

All of this is no surprise when you consider the gents that make up the band: Brand Lucia is a research with a PhD in computer science, David Balatero is a computer programmer, and Andrew Olmstead is an engineer . . . in the aerospace industry. They all agree that in making the music harder to access, their listeners would appreciate what they’re listening to a bit more.

After a few days, though, the band did also make the album available on Bandcamp, hack-free. You can access it there, but for those looking for a bit of a challenge, you can install the kernel module from Github here.

Electronic baton lets you be the conductor of a virtual symphony

New display at museum lets visitors experience what it’s like to be a conductor

Pretty cool project out of Germany at the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Museum—there, design studio White Void has created an interactive installation set-up that lets visitors experience what its like to be the conductor of an entire symphony.

91b8a4ef-1e6c-45dc-947c-cb9b79366992

The entire set-up is controlled vis-à-vis a special, electronic conductor’s baton. When in use, it controls 13 slim standing speakers, with each one representing a different types of instruments; also included: motion controllers, and a conductor’s stand with a 32-inch touchscreen.

0ad60ad7-9c18-4826-8ad2-269966eb1346

What with this being a blog for a portable speaker company, we have to focus a bit on this particular technology: each speaker corresponds to different types of instruments, including those from the woodwind section, percussion, brass, vocals, and more. Additionally, each speaker has a vertical digital display that shows what type of instruments it playing, and lights up when in use.

Mendelssohn

The touchscreen conductor’s stand shows the music sheet, and visitors can browse through the collection to select the song they want to play. As soon as he / she picks up the baton, the symphony begins.

6e856619-e818-42e7-9ced-65088da2e1c3

The visitor controls which types of instruments are spotlighted with the baton, as well as for how long, and how fast the tempo can be. (A Leap Motion controller is tasked with calculating the conductor’s movements and adjusts the tempo accordingly.) The conductor can also exclude different instrument groups, and change instrumentation or tonality as well (these particular features are done via the touchscreen).

Take a look at the installation in action in the video below!

Pyro board visualizes song’s beats with dancing flames

Idea based off Reuben’s Tube

What’s cool about the project below is the fact that not only do you get a bit of visual entertainment, you also get some learning in, too.

pyro-board-a-fascinating-demonst

Per the science video blog Veritasium, the “Pyro Board” is a demonstration of what happens when sound waves travel through flammable gas set aflame.

fire

It’s all based on a Rubens’ Tube, which is basically a long tube that’s able to illustrate stationary sound waves (a.k.a.: “standing waves”). In using some songs as the source of the sound waves, the pressure variations caused by the sound waves affect the flow rate of the aforementioned gas from the holes in the pyro board. This results in not on the height of the flame being adjusted per the beat, but the color too, making the board an awesome visual display of a fairly simple project.

pyro-music-board

The video runs six and a half minutes long because it goes into how everything works on a bit more of a granular level. If you just want to see some dancing flames, head to the three and a half minute mark.

Boombotix Releases the Chronic Edition

Smoked_Out

The Greenhouse effect

I’m happy to announce a limited edition Bot we’ve been working on since this morning over a bowl of cereal.  I would love to tell you what kind of cereal, but I totally don’t want us to get sued.  Let’s just call it ‘Raptain Runch’ and leave it at that.

Continue reading

Briefcase scooter makes commuting to work a breeze

Electric cycle-esque scooter also holds on to all of your important work documents

If you live in any sort of over-crowded metropolitan area, commuting can be a real drag, especially when you have to try and make it through crowds while carrying a bag or suitcase of all your important work documents.

640_rush-hour

The new Commute-Case from Green Energy Motors tries to solve both problems. It’s a suit case, sure, but it’s also a scooter.

56609c3c-b65f-44ca-92d8-249341802e0c

The Commute-Case is powered by a lithium-ion battery that takes about an hour to charge, but once it’s all juiced up, it can run you a solid 25 miles. That kind of technology’s not light, though. Weighing it at a somewhat hefty 27 pounds, the Commute-Case is a bit heavier than your typical suitcase. But if you’re packing on weight from the muscle you’re gaining while carrying this contraption around, you needn’t worry if the case can still carry you – it can actually support a weight of 275 pounds, while still achieving top speeds of about 13mph.

889c84ce-973c-497a-9c01-b0c641c94fc3

It might seem like the kind of technology that’s still a few years away from being available to the average owner, but believe it or not, the Commute-Case is already available on the company’s website for just under $3,000.

If you’re like me and can’t afford something like this, then take in all of its glorious technological wonders in the preview clip below, while you’re waiting for your bus to come pick you up: