New Music Controller Syntact Lets You Touch The Intangible

Thanks to the Kinect, using your body as a controller has become something ubiquitous. Sure, we still get a kick out of guiding something on a screen by simply moving a part of our body, but it’s quickly moving towards the commonplace. As gesture interfaces get better and better, there’s a lot of focus on accuracy and detection of even the minutest movements, but something that hasn’t quite been developed as heavily is tactile feedback, allowing you to feel like you’re actually touching something while moving your hand through the air. A new device called the Syntact takes a big step in that direction, focusing the use of the device on musicians.

Syntact consists of 120 ultrasonic transducers arranged in a bowl shape. The energy produced from each is focused at a specific point above the device, so you can actually feel the acoustic energy. Additionally, a camera captures the user’s hand movements, using the data to control parameters of the music, like pitch.

What this all means is that you can perform live, manipulating a composition on the fly, and feeling something tangible in your fingers as though you’re playing a physical instrument. However, rather than mimicking any particular real life instrument, the physical interaction with Syntact is a sensation unto itself. Just like a keyboard or a saxophone, it has a unique tactile experience. That means that once you get the hang of it, you can trigger all sorts of sounds with the movement of your hand.

It took ages for the touchscreen to move from average consumer product to music equipment, so its nice to see the controllerism nerds getting an early nod from this development. Any musician who hears that will see the value in it, as well as the huge amount of possibilities. Let’s see what happens when this thing is unleashed upon the world (hopefully, no more jazz singer back-up).

[via Create Digital Music]