Testing Polly Compose App

Rhyme’s design and development team is currently doing the last tests of the Polly Compose APP before the user studies with the families.
In the Polly Compose APP the user can interact with the Interactive things at home, Polly Planet, Polly Ocean and Polly Fire through a smartphone or a tablet (see photos below). Polly Compose has an easy to use graphical user interface (see the two picture in the middle) and text based (twitter)  user interface (see picture right) for more advanced music composition.

Here Anders is testing the tablet interface on an iPad.


First you choose the Polly Compose APP on your desktop. The first, Scenes & Things-screen, of three  in the APP opens (see picture to the left).
There you choose Scene (music and visuals) and Thing (Polly Ocean, Polly Fire, Polly Planet). Then hit the [play] button at the bottom (see picture left).

The second screen with the chosen thing in the middle opens (see picture in the middle). Here you can test out the and learn how to play on the thing and how it sounds, before sending the composition to be played on the physical thing at home. You build up a composition by hitting the sensors on the screen representing the sensors on the interactive physical thing. You can also specify how you want the action to be performed (fast, slow, slow etc.).  A composition is being built up and visualized over the play and send buttons at the bottom of the screen (see right upper picture).
You play your composition by hitting the [play] button. You send the composition by hitting [send], and you edit  (see left lower picture) and save and give it a name by hitting [edit] .
You can go to the first screen and choose another Scene or Thing by hitting  [back].

The sent Twitter Composition is received in the Interactive thing. In our example here Birgitta sends a Composition to Polly Planet (see picture lower right) and Polly Planet plays the music and light Composition.

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Polly World on Vimeo

We have created a little video about the physical interaction i Polly World (not the social screen based App interaction). The video is shot by Alexandre Chapell and edited by Mariko Rhode and Birgitta Cappelen. Thanks to Sara, Anders and Berit and their children for their contribution.

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RHYME with 2 Keynotes at the Nordic Snoezelen Conference

Nordic Snoezelen Conference 2014

RHYME contributed with two keynote lectures at the 10th Nordic Snoezelen Conference 2014 in Helsingør. The two lectures were Birgitta Cappelen’s Designing Next Generation Interactive MSE and Anders-Petter Andersson’s lecture Music in RHYME.
In Birgitta’s lecture she argued based on a democratic and humanistic perspectives and a resource oriented approach for a design of Multi Sensory Environments  (MSE) that offers continuous positive experiences and challenging mastery curve for diverse users. This demands a design that is both sensorially stimulating and easy in use and complex at the same time. This demands a computational and software solution that offers many ways to interact and develop actability and mastery over time, not only simple switch solutions.

In Anders-Petter’s lecture Music in RHYME he explained how the musical simplicity and complexity is built up, based on musical sounds and programmed rules that are activated in different user-situations.

The Nordic Snoezelen (also called Multi-sensory Environment - MSE) Conference is a biannual conference and the most important community in the Nordic Countries for use of sensory stimulation in therapy and health promotion.
The Norwegian Community is called Norske Sanserom, the American Community is called AAMSE and the international organisation ISNA. Within MSE very little has been done regarding use of advanced computational possibilities, interactive music and professional design and aesthetic competence when creating the Multi-Sensory Environments. In this context  RHYME is a unique project internationally. If you  want to read more about MSE research you will find a list here.

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RHYME at NIME 2014

NIME2014On 3rd July RHYME member Anders-Petter Andersson made a presentation of a paper by himself, Birgitta Cappelen and Fredrik Olofsson at NIME 2014. The title of their paper is “Designing Sound for Recreation and Well-Being”.  NIME, New Interfaces for Musical Expression, is the most important conference and community within music and technology. RHYME has for several years now been one of the few projects in this community focusing on developing musical artefacts and expression in a health related context. This is the third time RHYME has published at the NIME conference. NIME 2014 was held at Goldsmiths College at University of London, 30 June – 4 July 2014.

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RHYME at ESSA 2014

On 29th of June RHYME member Anders-Petter Andersson held a presentation on the ESSA 2014 Conference. ESSA is the European Sound Studies Association annual conference. This time the Conference name was Sound Studies: Mapping the Field and was held in Copenhagen from 27th to 29 of June 2014.
ESSA is a community that has emerged from various traditional disciplines within the humanities and social sciences related to sound and music, such as musicology, art history, media and cultural studies, psychology, architecture and urban planning. Sound studies has been associated with inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches.
Anders-Petter Andersson presentation was titled “Creating Musical Actors” and is about the musical work in RHYME and Polly, the 4th generation of Co-creative Tangibles.

In his presentation Andersson argues that music is not longer only the sound object, instrument or piece of art, but the services around it. These are services in the form of actors with characters that behave coherent as they answer back musically, take initiative and develop over time. With perspectives from drama, game theory, actor-network-theory as well as from learning theories on motivation, Andersson explores two design cases from RHYME.

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Pilot test of Polly World

PollyworldAfter a long and very demanding design and development period of the 4th generation of the Co-creative Tangibles, named Polly World, we have conducted a first pilot study. Polly World is an attempt to answer all the demands, suggestions  and wishes from users and experts related to the three earlier generations of RHYME’s Co-creative Tangibles, in addition to Social Media functionality. Developing the Polly World has therefore represented much more work and complex challenges than we initially planned for and understood. It  has therefore extended the project massively. Some of the major challenges and user demands have been:

  • Dynamic and interactive change of microphone input in mobile Co-creative Tangibles. So the users continuously can change their singing while  interacting with diverse sensors of the wireless Tangibles.
  • Closer and more intimate and embodied relation to the video projection, compared to traditional wall projection, TV and Computer Screens.
  • Better sound quality in the mobile Tangibles, regarding both sound frequency range and volume.
  • More varied musical choices and tunes ( for expanded the self-regulating possibilities), regarding forms of musical interaction (musicking), type of music and sound experiences (music tunes, genres and soundscapes), so the users can easily handle and choose music, music related activity and intensity level.
  • More robust transparent textile surfaces, since light is an important response dimension both in the interactive surfaces and part of the whole audio-visual experience.
  • Better touch sensor solutions, both regarding interaction possibilities and surface qualities like colour, softness, light response, responsiveness and durability.
  • More engaging and sensorial stimulating surfaces, to engage and motivate interaction with non-computer surfaces to gain a more fluent tactile, sensorial and interactive (computer based ) experience.
  • Easier grips and more possibilities to handle input sensors like microphone and bend sensors.
  • Possibility for the user to include their own things into the musical experience and make their own things sing along and expand the self-regulating possibilities.
  • Easier battery charging of the mobile Tangibles, so that the users easily can do it themselves.
  • Easier start and stop of the system, so the user can handle it themselves.
  • Movable Tangibles, so the whole Polly World can be moved, installed and stored rather easy. These practicalities took days and were in several cases impossible with earlier generations of the Co-creative Tangibles…
  • Social Media functionality  for distributed interaction on Smartphones and Tablets over the Internet (will be described in detail in a later post).

All these user and expert wishes (and many more) we have tried to put together in the new generation of the Co-creative Tangibles, Polly World. The Polly World consists currently of 4 Interactive, networked things, Co-creative Tangibles. The biggest , Polly Land, is wired , and 3 are mobile and wireless.  Polly Land contain a close projection using back ground projection onto a acrylic surface included in the soft textile  landscape. Polly Land has three “arms” containing RFID-reader, camera and microphone. It has a stand alone Wi-Fi system. The three other Polly interactive things is Polly Planet, Polly Fire and Polly Ocean.

Polly Land Polly Planet Polly Fire PollyOcean

They have their own separate colour  so they are easy to identify and interact with using a graphical interface on Smartphone and iPad. But the different sensors has the same shape, surface and interaction form. For instance is all touch sensors soft velvet triangles with the same output light pattern, but in Polly Land they are blue, in Ocean they are turquoise, in Fire they are orange and in Polly Planet they are yellow.  The same is the case with all input sensors like the bend sensors, the microphones, the RFID-readers and inductive charger.

The different shapes are built on traditional shapes within the field, such as Polly Planet that is bases on a ball shape. The shapes are constructed of triangles joined together with strong bands like trails the users can follow around the shapes to find more  sensorial challenges and experiences. The input areas are coloured sports fabric that contrasts the passive grey wool patches. Every Polly Tangibles, interactive thing has big light output patches included, some with speakers embedded.

Here are some more situations from the pilot test 16. June 2014:
Father and child in Polly Fire Child handling the bend-sensor alone Father and child climbing on Polly Land Sleeping father and child in  Polly Land Child learning how to choose music with the RFID-reader, the white soft glowing triangle Family in Polly World Mother and child playing music with NFC  Adults playing music in Polly World together

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Creating an Open Musical Experience

The RHYME development team are currently working on creating the music for the 4th generation of RHYME Co-creative Tangibles. The goal is to meet the demands from the users, music therapists and focus groups, to choose the music of their own liking (self-regulation), both well known music and more abstract soundscapes. We edit and de-compose a linear tune into musically significant elements. Elements that the users can re-compose, based on advanced musical rules into a continuous musical experience, by interacting together. The different users, both at home and on a distance, can interact and co-create the music together. The co-creation can be achieved in many ways: through physical interaction in the Co-creative Tangibles; through a graphical iPad interface; or through writing compositions in a high level musical Twitter language on the mobile phone.
The 4th generation Co-creative Tangibles, named Polly, will offer the users a broad range of musical styles from beat-based popular music, children songs, classical music to more contemporary musical experiences. Currently (June 2014) we have about 40 different interactive visual and musical soundscapes the users can select from by choosing preferred Scene Cards with RFID tag. Under are some of the Scene Cards  Polly offers so far, but this part of Polly is in continues development, so we can offer new visual and musical experiences :

fox-2 lys-2 byssa-2 city-2 factory-2 gimme-2 lonesome-2 Boogi WondelandDyrene i Afrika edderkopp-2 help-2 bakvendtland-2

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RHYME at ArcInTex

RHYME member Birgitta Cappelen was invited to speak on this year’s ArcInTex conference in Gothenburg. The title of her lecture was “Designing Component Based Smart Textile” and concerned the ongoing work with developing textile solutions for 4th Generation of Co-creative Tangibles, named Polly.  The idea is to combine perspectives from the Textile and Computational traditions into a new concept of Smart Textile. From the Textile tradition we have modular thinking in Patchwork were we reuse used materials into creating new artefacts. In our Folk Costume tradition we also have modular parts like the belt and chest part (in Norwegian “bringeduk“) which can be added, inherited and used in another costume. Development in Carpet Tile Industry, from being a material to a service provider, is also an important inspiration. In the Computational tradition we have the tradition of modularity and components in both hardware components and in different forms of Component based software architecture. In developing RHYME Co-creative tangibles, Polly, we use both these lines of thoughts to structure the Smart Textile vertically and horizontally. Horizontally as different surface areas of sensors and sensorially stimulating surfaces. Vertically as layers, from the textile surface and shape, via hardware components, different functions and services to the data protocols (USB, Twitter, TCP/IP ).

Polly Planet Touch Sensor Component Polly Planet Bend Sensor Component  Polly Planet RFID reader Component Smart Textile vertical layers

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RHYME keynote at Music for All

On November 9th the RHYME member Anders-Petter Andersson was invited to give a keynote lecture at the 3rd Music for All Conference in Helsinki. His lecture was called “Why Electronic Music Technologies Collect Dust, People Get Angry with Fury Robot Seals and a Possible Solution”. The conference was given in collaboration between the Resonaari Special Music Centre, the Universities of Helsinki and Jyväskylä.

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Developing 4th generation, distributed and social media

Currently we are working intensively with the development of the 4th generation of Co-creative Tangibles. The 4th generation of Co-creative Tangibles are in the project plan defined as “distributed and social media”.  In the RHYME project this means that the users can co-create across different media, space and time. For instance that a sibling can interact through a smartphone or tablet from another place, with her sister or brother and the Co-creative Tangibles at home.

In the 4th generation we try to accomplish, develop and realize as many of the ideas, suggestions and wishes as possible, that we have received from the users, care persons, families and experts from several fields throughout the whole project. These many ideas, suggestions and wishes have been articulated through participation in the many workshops, tests, interviews, discussions and observations during the whole RHYME project.

Some of the users’ wishes, such as dynamic microphone input to the music together with different forms of sensorial stimulating input sensors in a mobile interactive thing, has been a major technological challenge. These user wishes have compelled us to develop six different hardware platforms throughout the project, which was not something we planned to do, but had to do because of its importance for the users and music therapists.

Including direct light response and projection in the tangible objects has also been an important user demand that has been a great design challenge. We try to include and prioritize as many user wishes as possible into a new 4th generation of distributed and social co-creative tangibles with new shapes, structures, surfaces, hardware,  software, music, set design, positive experiences and mastery levels, personalization and interaction forms. Here are some pictures from the ongoing development process:

New hardware solutions under development:

New shapes under development:

New materials, surfaces and joinery under development:

New light solutions under development:

New APP with graphical user interface under development:

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