Sony, co-creating a new sound experience with performing artists.
MOTION SONIC PROJECT
What if you can create sound in sync with your exact movements? "MOTION SONIC PROJECT," a project which challenges in creating a new musical expression has been launched. This project has taken the form of an open process whereby the opinions of performers, athletes and ordinary people have been incorporated in the project since its initial development stages and progress updates on testing have been posted on the web. We talked to its development team about this "Project" which extends the possibilities of sound to different fields, including music, entertainment, sports and more.
Converting body movement into sound.
The challenge of a new musical experience.
"The prototype that we are currently working on for the 'MOTION SONIC PROJECT' transforms the experience of moving one's body into an entertainment form. If you wear it on your wrist or ankle and move your body, it converts your body movements into sound. Your own movements will generate sounds like "woosh," when you swing up your arms, for example, or "thwock," when you throw a punch. This way, even ordinary movements can become amusing and fun. It also provides a source of entertainment for those who are simply watching, making them go 'wow!'
This is the kind of entertaining experience we want everyone to enjoy."
These are the words of engineer Heesoon Kim, the original proponent and development leader of this project. It was his own desire to explore the basic principles of how we enjoy sound which inspired the development of this project.
"I believe that, if we could just provide a satisfying sound experience by re-introducing the physical element that used to be a part of music, this would lead to the challenge of creating a new cultural expression. We've been moving forward with this goal in mind."
How does one go about "converting body movements into sound"? Takumi Suzuki, product designer with the development team, explains this process to us.
"Using a technology which included a microphone to capture the sounds generated when you move your body, and a motion sensor for detecting body motion, we developed a device that emits sounds every time the body moves. We then asked performers to try the original prototype we had developed and put our heads together with engineers, designers, and performers to create a new genre, a form of entertainment and a medium for self-expression; this is, in short, the history of this project."
Refining the original concept by "co-creation" with performing artists
In order to create the product which users really want and would enjoy using, the development team had asked the actual users from the earliest stages to try out the various concepts they had envisioned. This was the reason performance-testing started with the performing group "s**tkingz". Working in cooperation, or "co-creation," -as Kim puts it- with professional dancers and athletes, has helped to identify right away what worked and what didn't, enabling the team to create a truly worthwhile product.
"We had athletes and dancers actually test the prototype several times, and from the start they told us how good it felt. The general opinion was that the device amplifies the effects of normal movements which creates a very pleasant sensation. Most interestingly, we were also told that, when the device was taken away, they experienced a feeling of loss, that they felt as if their own movements had become weaker. When I heard that particular feedback, I realized we were on the right track."
Endless possibilities, continuing evolution.
Suzuki told us that the "MOTION SONIC PROJECT," presently in its early stages of development, is going to evolve and develop in various directions in the future.
"The concept of creating a sound by making a certain movement goes beyond the realms of sports or dance. I wouldn't be surprised if in the future we will see performing artists take this concept and run with it."
At the same time, for Kim this is a project for exploring the origins of how we enjoy sound."This is different from the experience of operating a device, this is something which is simply fun to just use, which you can enjoy spontaneously and to your heart's content. I wanted to provide an experience where you can have fun by simply moving, use it without thinking and gradually learn and improve, or just have fun by using it intuitively and instinctively.
The MOTION SONIC PROJECT's challenge to a new musical experience continues.