Turn an iPhone into an augmented reality space and that space into a musical instrument. ToneTree have just hit their goal of $30,000 on Kickstarter for their unhelpfully named OAK augmented reality system for iOS – and they still have 28 days left.
The system consists of a dock for your iPhone that makes use of the camera, a collection of totems that are seen in the space, and a laser which detects your interaction with the totems. The totems are a bunch of shapes, cards and objects that are identified by the system. Pick them up, move them or touch them and Oak can interpret that action. This is largely all about gaming – isn’t everything. But they’ve also developed a music based system of totems which has the potential of being very interesting…. probably. Well at least as interesting as the new ROLI Blocks thing released the other day.
The very uncooly named Rockstar Kit consists of a number of flat square pad-like totems. Each pad can represent a musical sound which Oak then turns into MIDI as you tap/strike/hit them. The idea is that you can arrange these pads however you like – build up a modular music studio – and then route them to any musical app. Here’s a quick video clip that gives perhaps a tiny bit more information:
It seems to do as they say it will, but it looks all a bit dodgy to me. The cards are very movable and do seem like bits of coloured card. In the main video below, the man with the nice beard appears to be having a lovely time – although no one in the café is brave enough to tell him he looks like an idiot slapping those bits of card around. I can see the potential but why wouldn’t you just bring something like a Korg Nanopad along with you? It has to be the modular nature that gives it something more. I’d suggest that perhaps they could look into using totems for sequencing, like arranging your own step sequencer on a table-top. I’m reminded of something I played with some years ago called D-Touch Paper Drum Machine – check this out from 2012:
Actually, that’s fabulous feature for the new Surface Studio right there!
Anyway, Oak has been funded and will move into production. It looks like a really interesting project. I’m skeptical about the musical uses but it looks like it could be fun and has potential to move in all sorts of areas.
There are still early bird pledges available for $59 which gets you all the kits and an estimated delivery of August next year. For more information check out the Kickstarter campaign here.