Tim Thompson is a software engineer, musician, and installation artist. He was recently mentioned in Roger Linn’s post “Research Project: LinnStrument — A New Musical Instrument Concept” where Roger credits Tim with writing a program that “translates the TouchCo's proprietary USB messages into TUIO messages sent over OSC.”
I met Tim at my recent concert at the Art Institute of California/Sunnyvale and he was kind enough to invite me over to see his latest development project, the MultiMultiTouchTouch. This custom solution offers players any number of arbitrarily-shaped multitouch areas with three-dimensional spatial control. Interaction with this space allows users to control and play virtual synthesizers using nothing but a Microsoft Kinect as the controller.
Ironically, the concept shown in Moog Music’s April Fools video “Introducing the Moog Polyphonic Theremin” is not only a reality, but Tim has one-upped this idea by providing polyphonic spatial control in multiple “frames”, AND more granular control than a Theremin with finger blob detection. In short MultiMultiTouchTouch is like having a polyphonic/multitimbral Theremin that can not only detect hand movements, but finger movements as well – from multiple players!!!
Luckily I brought my video camera along and recorded Tim describing and demoing the technology. I also give the MultiMultiTouchTouch a try at the end of the video. So, without further ado, I present the video “An Exclusive First Look at Tim Thompson's Kinect-Based Instrument: MultiMultiTouchTouch”
In summary, Tim developed with the following components:
- Microsoft Kinect (with power supply)
- KeyKit which is Tim’s own programming language and graphical environment for MIDI
- Cinder Open Source SDK
- Open Source Computer Vision (OpenCV)
- Open Sound Control (OSC)
- Python, used to implement a GUI for parameter control
- HP Laptop running Windows 7
- A wood frame for calibration (wood frame is not required once the frames have been calibrated).
The raw output of this controller is OSC messages formatted using the TUIO (multitouch) standard format. Parameters of the software can be controlled with JSON-formatted messages.
If you're near Silicon Valley, you can play with this controller on April 10 at the Stanford DIY Musical Instrument Tailgate Party , or at the Kinect Hackathon at Hacker Dojo. Tim will also be using it in installations at Lightning In a Bottle and Burning Man this year.
Pass It On
I want to reiterate, this is real and NOT a late April Fool’s joke. Incredible work Tim! Congrats. I can’t wait to see where Tim takes this and look forward to the possibility of doing some MultiMultiTouchTouch compositions and performances myself. To help Tim promote his work share this video.
- To learn more about Tim’s work, visit his web site http://timthompson.com
- More Modulate This Interviews
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Composer, Synthesist, Electronic Musician & Multimedia Artist | Sr. Systems Analyst | Founder of the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup