Touchscreen, Sensors Bring Music App to Life

Digital DJs can use motion sensors, touchscreens to create immersive musical and visual experiences.

Previously limited to spinning turntables or creating special iPod playlists, powerful apps that make use of motion sensors and touchscreens may be the tools of choice for the next generation of aspiring DJs.

Elements DJ App on Ultrabook

Twisted Oak Studios ran demonstrations of Element on a Toshiba Ultrabook Convertible at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

Element, an app created by Canadian-based Twisted Oak Studios, lets DJs mix digital music and sync it to visuals. The app makes use of the touchscreen, sensors and computer performance of an Ultrabook. With a tap, tilt or turn of the device — movements that resemble how a pilot might grip, lift or turn the yoke of a flying airplane — the app bends sounds and blends together songs with mesmerizing visual effects. DJs can share video and images on large TV screens wirelessly using WiDi technology built into Ultrabooks, convertibles and many laptop computers.

Today’s mobile apps, from games to media editing and sharing, are often designed first for smartphones or tablets. But Twisted Oak Studios, with support from Intel, is taking a different approach by releasing its latest app first through Microsoft’s Windows Store. The launch of Element, an app designed for touch-enabled Windows 8 Ultrabooks, is a shift for the cooperative of computer scientists that has previously designed a series of Zombie Wonderland games for Apple and Android stores.

“Ultrabooks are moving ahead of the curve to where the laptop needs to be in a world populated by smartphones and tablets,” said Twisted Oak co-founder Devin Horsman. “We designed Element to take advantage of the lightness and thinness of Ultrabooks, the accelerometer, compass and gyro sensors built inside, and the touchscreen so you get fast, kinetic control of songs while having enough compute power to render visualizations that respond to music.

Element Windows Store App

Element, available first in the Windows Store, is a music and visualization app designed for social settings, allowing DJs to alter sounds and blend songs.

Touchscreens, accelerometers, gyroscopes as well as location, proximity, motion and ambient light sensors are available in many smartphones and tablets, but Ultrabook and convertible computer makers designing for Windows 8 are including these sensors.

Element will be available free in the Windows Store  starting Nov. 15, according to Horsman, and will come with options to purchase additional filters, features and future elements. Element will only work on Windows 8 computers, but he said that his team will also work on scaled-down versions to run on smartphones and tablets.

“We wouldn’t be able to do all of this on an ARM-based tablet because it does a lot of analysis, so it needs power from a laptop,” said Horsman. “For it to work on a tablet, we’d have to make another version because tablets typically have the sensor but not the performance power to do the mixing, so we’d have to reduce mixing or visuals. There’s no way to do it without good graphics because graphics help calculate the relation of the beats and visuals, and it helps apply filters to music.”

Ultrabook Sensors

Software developers such as Twisted Oak Studios are building new applications that leverage touch, gesture and motion control as they anticipate a rise in demand for Windows 8 Ultrabook and convertible computers built with accelerometers, gyroscopes, compasses, GPS and ambient light sensors.

On Windows 8 computers without sensors, Element will have less functionality. “Instead of using sensors, they will be able to change the effects using the keyboard,” said Horsman. However, “any non-ARM [processor-powered] tablet should be able to run it on full Windows 8.” ARM-based Windows tablets run Windows RT rather than Windows 8.

Horsman, a human computer interaction specialist who also teaches game design at Canada’s Dalhousie University, said that he worked with Signal Noise artist James White to create the visualizations for Element. Since early public demonstrations were run at the Intel Developer Forum in September, Twisted Oak has improved song search and added new features to the music app.

“Now you can mix one song into the next song and the application matches the beat by distorting the time, then blends them together like a DJ with two turntables,” he said. “It will blend songs automatically or you can control the speed of the transition. Then the user can transform the music and visuals by tilting, turning and gyrating the screen. It’s great for a party where it can be shared with different people having fun, and it’s easy … no learning needed.”

 
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Touchscreen, Sensors Bring Music App to Life

Digital DJs can use motion sensors, touchscreens to create immersive musical and visual experiences.

Previously limited to spinning turntables or creating special iPod playlists, powerful apps that make use of motion sensors and touchscreens may be the tools of choice for the next generation of aspiring DJs.

Elements DJ App on Ultrabook

Twisted Oak Studios ran demonstrations of Element on a Toshiba Ultrabook Convertible at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

Element, an app created by Canadian-based Twisted Oak Studios, lets DJs mix digital music and sync it to visuals. The app makes use of the touchscreen, sensors and computer performance of an Ultrabook. With a tap, tilt or turn of the device — movements that resemble how a pilot might grip, lift or turn the yoke of a flying airplane — the app bends sounds and blends together songs with mesmerizing visual effects. DJs can share video and images on large TV screens wirelessly using WiDi technology built into Ultrabooks, convertibles and many laptop computers.

Today’s mobile apps, from games to media editing and sharing, are often designed first for smartphones or tablets. But Twisted Oak Studios, with support from Intel, is taking a different approach by releasing its latest app first through Microsoft’s Windows Store. The launch of Element, an app designed for touch-enabled Windows 8 Ultrabooks, is a shift for the cooperative of computer scientists that has previously designed a series of Zombie Wonderland games for Apple and Android stores.

“Ultrabooks are moving ahead of the curve to where the laptop needs to be in a world populated by smartphones and tablets,” said Twisted Oak co-founder Devin Horsman. “We designed Element to take advantage of the lightness and thinness of Ultrabooks, the accelerometer, compass and gyro sensors built inside, and the touchscreen so you get fast, kinetic control of songs while having enough compute power to render visualizations that respond to music.

Element Windows Store App

Element, available first in the Windows Store, is a music and visualization app designed for social settings, allowing DJs to alter sounds and blend songs.

Touchscreens, accelerometers, gyroscopes as well as location, proximity, motion and ambient light sensors are available in many smartphones and tablets, but Ultrabook and convertible computer makers designing for Windows 8 are including these sensors.

Element will be available free in the Windows Store  starting Nov. 15, according to Horsman, and will come with options to purchase additional filters, features and future elements. Element will only work on Windows 8 computers, but he said that his team will also work on scaled-down versions to run on smartphones and tablets.

“We wouldn’t be able to do all of this on an ARM-based tablet because it does a lot of analysis, so it needs power from a laptop,” said Horsman. “For it to work on a tablet, we’d have to make another version because tablets typically have the sensor but not the performance power to do the mixing, so we’d have to reduce mixing or visuals. There’s no way to do it without good graphics because graphics help calculate the relation of the beats and visuals, and it helps apply filters to music.”

Ultrabook Sensors

Software developers such as Twisted Oak Studios are building new applications that leverage touch, gesture and motion control as they anticipate a rise in demand for Windows 8 Ultrabook and convertible computers built with accelerometers, gyroscopes, compasses, GPS and ambient light sensors.

On Windows 8 computers without sensors, Element will have less functionality. “Instead of using sensors, they will be able to change the effects using the keyboard,” said Horsman. However, “any non-ARM [processor-powered] tablet should be able to run it on full Windows 8.” ARM-based Windows tablets run Windows RT rather than Windows 8.

Horsman, a human computer interaction specialist who also teaches game design at Canada’s Dalhousie University, said that he worked with Signal Noise artist James White to create the visualizations for Element. Since early public demonstrations were run at the Intel Developer Forum in September, Twisted Oak has improved song search and added new features to the music app.

“Now you can mix one song into the next song and the application matches the beat by distorting the time, then blends them together like a DJ with two turntables,” he said. “It will blend songs automatically or you can control the speed of the transition. Then the user can transform the music and visuals by tilting, turning and gyrating the screen. It’s great for a party where it can be shared with different people having fun, and it’s easy … no learning needed.”

 
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