jamTable
Category: Work

Esteves, A., Quintal, F. and Oakley, I. 2013. jamTable: Can Physical Interfaces Support the Collaboration between Novice and Experienced Musicians? In I. Oakley and S. Brewster (eds.) Haptic and Audio Interaction Design, 7989, 99-108. [download]

The jamTable is a tangible system that was developed with the goal of lowering the entry bar for novice users who want to perform and learn with more experienced musicians. This is enabled by allowing two users to collaborate in real-time over an interactive tabletop: while one plays a musical instrument, the other controls a simple tangible musical sequencer (in the likes of the Audio d-touch).

The interface for this sequencer relies on a grid of 24 music tiles, seven control tiles (one for each of the music tile columns), and a record tile. The interaction relies solely on tangible actions, with users having two sets of tokens to manage: music and control tokens. Users can start or stop recording an instrument’s output by placing or removing a music token on the recording tile. Likewise, users can play recorded sounds by simply adding the corresponding music tokens to any vacant music tiles. Furthermore, by using a control token, users can change the volume and pitch, or apply the popular drive effect to any set of music tokens playing in parallel above the control tile just occupied.

The jamTable was implemented using conventional technologies, such as the Processing programming language, the reacTIVision tracking software, and the TUIO messaging protocol. The surface has an area of 120 by 70 centimeters, and each token is a cuboid of 8 by 8 by 1 centimeters. Twenty tokens were deployed: 15 music tokens that enable users to record and play sound clips; and five control tokens that can alter the playback through higher and lower pitch and volume, or through a drive effect. Finally, recording is enabled through a small directional microphone capable of recording most musical instruments. Its sound is played through four small speakers and a subwoofer.

The jamTable interface

The jamTable interface

Two participants interacting through the jamTable

Two participants interacting through the jamTable

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