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Tapping out a TAI-CHI tune

12:33pm, August 1, 2006

From Munich, at the Euroscience Open Forum meeting

Alain Crevoisier had reckoned that it would be easy to turn almost any hard surface into a keyboard, drum head, or other input for a computer-controlled musical instrument. Just place a few sensors somewhere under a tabletop to read sound waves traveling through it. Then, assign spots on the table to correspond with various digital sounds stored in the computer. Begin tapping, and the computer would triangulate the positions of those taps to figure out what sounds to play.

In fact, creating such a system proved quite difficult, says Crevoisier, an artist and engineer at the University of Applied Sciences Vaud in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland. But now, after working with researchers from seven research centers in five countries for the past 2 years, Crevoisier and his colleagues have created prototype kits for transforming household surfaces into computer-input devices.

The team calls its new systems tang

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