Rhodri Marsden on three of the latest must-have gizmos currently putting the prog in progress…
“Why in the blazes,” I hear you cry, “are you putting a child’s toy in the hallowed pages of Prog?” While the Zoolophone certainly looks like a toy glockenspiel with bars fashioned into animal shapes, this proof-of-concept sits at the cutting edge of acoustic design. The combined intellectual forces of scientists at Columbia, Harvard and CSAIL have produced a computer algorithm to generate objects that make a specific sound; the Zoolophone is the result, and apparently it’s an exciting development for musicians, artists and engineers alike.
Motus motion sensor
From TZM in Lithuania comes the world’s first invisible violin – or certainly the first one I’ve seen (sorry, haven’t seen). Motus, a contraction of “motion to sound”, is a range of small, hand-held, sub-£100 gizmos equipped with a range of motion sensors that link wirelessly to a sound-generating app. “The space around you,” says TZM’s founder, “becomes a touchless surface, a canvas you can interact with.” The invisible violin is one of many options, including air guitar and air drums.
Once in a while I like to immerse myself in the indulgent world of high-end audio and marvel at the eye-watering sums that people will pay for the Ultimate Listening Experience. Sennheiser has billed its new Orpheus headphones as “the best in the world”, and at £35,000 a pair you’d hope so. When you turn on the dedicated amplifier, chrome-plated brass buttons and quartz glass vacuum tubes slowly rise from the sculpted marble casing, giving you a profound piece of performance art before you’ve even strapped on the cans.