Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab to unveil musical instrument for a flexible smartphone
KINGSTON - Researchers at the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University have developed the world’s first musical instrument for a flexible smartphone. The device, dubbed WhammyPhone, allows users to bend the display in order to create sound effects on a virtual instrument, such as a guitar or violin.
“WhammyPhone is a completely new way of interacting with sound using a smartphone. It allows for the kind of expressive input normally only seen in traditional musical instruments.” says Dr. Vertegaal.
WhammyPhone features a 1920x1080 full high-definition Flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode (FOLED) touchscreen display. The display shows keys that can be used to play sounds on sound synthesis software running on a computer. Like the ReFlex flexible smartphone, WhammyPhone is also equipped with a bend sensor, which allows for the user to bend the phone as a means of manipulating the sound.
Dr. Vertegaal demonstrates a number of applications for the new functionality of the WhammyPhone. The bend input can be used to simulate bending a string on a virtual guitar, providing Hendrix’ style feedback sounds. In another example, the phone is used to simulate the bowing of a simulated violin. Here, the bending of the phone provides the same kind of experience as exerting pressure on a real bow. A final example shows how WhammyPhone can be used to control loops in Electronic Dance Music, making it more intuitive for DJs to interact with their instruments.
“The real importance of WhammyPhone is that it provides the same kind of kinesthetic feedback that, say, a string provides when it is bent to alter the pitch”, says Dr. Vertegaal. “This kind of effect is critical for musicians to control their expression, and provides another level of utility for bend input in smartphones”.
Queen’s researchers will unveil WhammyPhone in Tokyo, Japan at one of the top conferences in Human-Computer Interaction, ACM UIST 2016, on Monday October 17th.
This research was support by Immersion Canada Inc. and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Gomes, A., Priyardarshana, L., Carrascal, J-P, and Vertegaal, R. WhammyPhone: Exploring Tangible Audio Manipulation Using Bend Input on a Flexible Smartphone. In Proceedings of ACM UIST 2016 Conference on User Interface Software and Technology. ACM Press, 2016.
A high resolution photograph of WhammyPhone is available below.
Please include a credit to Human Media Lab.