Fad Gadgets: Rhodri tests a virtual baton, unique speaker and real drum machine

a woman tests out the Conductrix virtual baton
The Conductrix

Conductrix It’s a moment to relish for all you budding Herbert von Karajans or Simon Rattles.

Irish conductor and composer Eimear Noones has come up with a virtual reality simulation of conducting that allows you to direct an orchestra from your living room. It’s the first step in a much bigger project called Muso-VR, a combination of tutorials and virtual reality, which Noone’s partner, composer Craig Stuart Garfinkle, describes as “the musical equivalent of Facebook combined with World Of Warcraft”. Terrifying. But in a good way.
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Programming drums has always felt more like doing your accounts: you push stuff around a grid and keep your fingers crossed that the results aren’t too traumatic. Perc bills itself as the “real” drum machine. A combination of
a controller, some mechanical arms and specially designed ball-shaped beaters allow your composed rhythms to be played on a real kit, in real time. It’s due to ship in September, and it won’t be cheap – but come on, you’re getting the nearest thing to a robot drummer yet devised.
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The “A” Speaker

Anyone who’s sat next to an annoying person on a bus will know that headphones are not always as ‘personal’ as we’d like them to be. The “A” speaker removes headphone misery with an astonishing development in music technology: personal listening without headphones, thanks to a directional speaker beaming ultrasonic waves in your direction. This allows two people to sit in the same room listening to different music, with neither annoying the other. It’s rightly won a bunch of awards already, and is due out later this year.
Visit the website for more information.

Rhodri Marsden