Synchrum: A Tangible Interface for Rhythmic Collaboration
Project Name: Synchrum: A Tangible Interface for Rhythmic Collaboration
Synchrum is a tangible tool for rhythmic collaboration, inspired by Tibetan prayer wheel. Synchrum calculates rotations per minute and compares it with a target rate, deciding whether a user is in synch and for how long. Thus, it affords audience participation via sustained in-synch rhythmic movement, using a tangible physical object. It can be used to engage the audience in a digital performance that opens the possibilities for collaboration in narration and extends the range of expression.
Other Collaborators: Nell Tenhaaf (Visual Arts, York University)
Synchrum is a tangible tool for rhythmic collaboration, inspired by Tibetan prayer wheel. Traditionally, turning a prayer wheel is used to send prayers to the universe, in fact, interfacing with it. Synchrum calculates rotations per minute and compares it with a target rate, deciding whether a user is in sync and for how long. Thus, it affords audience participation via sustained in-sync rhythmic movement, using a tangible physical object.
Synchrum was originally developed as a student design challenge project and was presented at several conferences and events.
Traditional cultural artifacts hold great potential as sources of inspiration for the design of novel digital interfaces. While travelling in India and China, I observed the use of a fascinating cultural object, the Tibetan prayer wheel. This object exists in different sizes and colors and its use is prevalent among Tibetan populations in the aforementioned countries. A Tibetan prayer wheel consists of a circular cylinder, mounted on top of a graspable handle that can be used to rotate the cylinder rhythmically. A written prayer roll is inserted in the cylinder and the traditional belief is that each turn of the cylinder corresponds to a recitation of the prayer. This idea inspired the development of Synchrum, a computational object for use by members of the audience in a digital performance.
Aspects of Synchrum’s design
- Initial prototypes involved hacking everyday objects (e.g., potato smasher and chair wheel) which later evolved into an original design.
- Deliberate effortful interaction engaging the user in continuous rotation of a physical weight is used.
- A distributed architecture, allows scalability where multiple units are monitored and controlled from an intuitive central interface.
- The skill level difficulty of being in-synch is adjustable in real time.
- Engaging the audience in a digital performance that opens the possibilities for collaboration in narration and extends the range of expression.
- Collaborative children activities, such as music controlling and synching.
- Possible future applications include music education and physical therapy.
This project was supported by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University. The design and development team consisted of Foad Hamidi, Alexander Moakler and Assaf Gadot. It was done under the supervision of Professor Melanie Baljko. We would like to thank Professor Nell Tenhaaf and Sahand Amiri for their help and support.