While all the fuss over last week around multi-touch screens was due to the announcement by Microsoft of Surface, other similar interfaces deserve their share of credit. One of the most notable ones is Reactable, the table that creates music.


It was with big surprise that I’ve found the installation this Saturday at ZdB (Galeria Zé dos Bois), performing their collaborative music in the table top multi-touch interface. In a talk with Sergi and Marcos, they shared a bit of the history of the 4 years research project of the Music Technology Group within the Audiovisual Institute at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona Spain. While only performing live for 1,5 years, the research is now already 4 years old, with development based on C++ with open-source software reactiVision, with a camera underneath detecting the objects location and orientation.

Basic Demo video

Improvisation Demo video

At the performance Marcos and Sergi placed different objects or sound generators (aka fiducial) on top of the multi-touch table, and while quite experimental it surely is a great way to produce music as shown by Icelandic singer and performer Bjork that will be using the tabletop during the “Volta” tour. As for a more commercial applications, Marcos explained me that more robust table could be built to ensure a safe experimentation by larger audiences (children mostly). oh, you can even try and build one yourself.

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