ICME 2006 Toronto

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Paper Detail

Session:Multimedia Interfaces III
Time:Monday, July 10, 10:50 - 12:50
Presentation: Poster
Topic: Multimedia Interface and Interaction: New multimedia UI metaphors
Title: The Hydraulophone: Instrumentation for tactile feedback from fluid streams as a new multimedia interface (water fountain as keyboard)
Authors: Steve Mann; University of Toronto 
 Ahmedullah Sharifi; University of Toronto 
 Mike Hung; University of Toronto 
 Russell Verbeeten; University of Toronto 
Abstract: Water fountains are proposed as haptic/tactile surfaces that respond when people touch, block, or restrict flow of water jets to trigger multimedia events. This ``fluid-user-interface'' metaphor is based on the ``hydraulophone'' (alternative spelling: ``hydrauliphone''), a musical instrument played by direct interaction with a pressurized hydraulic fluid emerging from an array of finger holes. The hydraulophone is like a keyboard, made from a water fountain, but each jet is a soft key that can be pressed in infinitely many different ways to obtain intricate and independent control of the volume, pitch, and timbre of each note, when sounding multiple notes simultaneously (i.e. playing harmelody). Some ``pneumatophones'' (alternative spelling: ``pneumatiphone'') have been designed to work on air. In their purely acoustic form, pneumatophones are woodwind instruments similar to flutes except that they can play chords, and there is a rich space of variations in tone, volume, timbre, etc., that can be independently applied to each note when more than one note is sounded together. This paper describes the construction of a MIDI interface that can be attached to an acoustic hydraulophone, or pneumatophone, or to an ordinary water fountain, or air fountain. This allows the fountain to be used as a haptic/tactile control surface or highly expressive fluid keyboard that provides gentle, soothing (soft) tactile feedback quite different from either the hard (solid) feedback of plastic keys, or the total lack of tactile feedback inherent in camera-based, vision-based, or proximity-sensing user-interfaces.

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