Wouldn't it be
wicked cool to have a cute little robot on your desk dancing to
provides a nice API for writing music visualization plug-ins.
I wrote a plug-in that sends signals to the parallel port that
correspond to the waveform data in the song being played. By
setting the pins of the parallel port on and off, I can control the
robot and attempt to make him respond appropriately to changes in
Aww... isn't he adorable?
The wires coming out of the back of his
neck are a little creepy though.
dancing robot prototype was a metal and rubber incarnation of
the Kinetix dancing
baby. I took the baby's rubber arms off,
inserted circular plastic joints, and soldered them onto some
99-cent DC motors from Radio Shack. The motors were
hooked up to a protoboard on which I built a circuit that
turned them on and off in response to the signals from the
the baby's thick arms were a little too heavy for the wimpy
motors I was using. Instead of a dancing baby, all I got
was a baby that twitched uncontrollably to the music, as if
Winamp were giving him an epileptic seizure.
to try a smaller dancing figure instead, so I outfitted this
Buzz Lightyear action figure with the same motors. He
dances in rhythm very well for songs with strong drumbeats,
but not as well for quiet songs.
Right about now, the funk soul brother...
I'm going to try
to build a better version of the robot that uses servo motors to
move the robot's limbs in a more controlled fashion, but I'm a
little concerned that this will make the cost of the robot too high
(right now, the entire thing can be built with 5 dollars worth of
is another visualization plug-in for Winamp. It creates generalized cylinders
from spline data that pulsate and shift color in rhythm to music.
The plug-in also allows you to flow through a 3D "tunnel of
music". The shape of the tunnel and the camera path are
specified by a spline designated by the user. As you fly
through the tunnel, the colors on the walls of the tunnel shift in
response to the intensity of the music at varying frequencies.
The result is a colorful tunnel fly-through that matches the music.
The plug-in can load splines from a built-in collection or from a
user-specified file containing spline data.
You can download
the plug-in here.
You can also download a sample animation in both AVI
(lower quality) formats.
Percolator is an aesthetically pleasing ambient display
display device developed by Scott
Hudson, a professor in the Human-Computer Interaction
Institute. The Percolator consists of a series of water-filled
tubes with aquarium bubblers at the bottom of each tube. The
bubblers are driven by a microcontroller connected to a networked
laptop. This laptop acts as a server, enabling anyone to send
commands to the percolator using the Java RMI. For more
details on the information percolator, you can read professor
The Information Percolator.
|It seemed to
me that music visualization would be a natural application of
the information percolator. After discussing the setup
of the Information Percolator with Scott Hudson, I wrote a
Winamp plug-in that uses JNI to make calls to the percolator
in response to music. The 32 tubes correspond to 32
frequency bands, and each tube bubbles with an intensity
proportional to the amplitude of its corresponding frequency