Bendable WhammyPhone offers flexible music control

The WhammyPhone includes a bend sensor that registers display bends, twists and squeezes and converts them into virtual instrument sounds(Credit: Queens University Human Media Lab)

Earlier this year, a team from Queen's University in Canada demonstrated a smartphone prototype called ReFlex that had a flexible display capable of flipping virtual book pages in response to what were dubbed bend gestures. Researchers from the same Human Media Lab have now developed a similar device called the WhammyPhone that's claimed to be the world's first virtual musical instrument for flexible phones.

The WhammyPhone prototype sports a 1920 x 1080 pixel full high-definition Flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode (FOLED) touchscreen display and, like the ReFlex device, includes a bend sensor. This means that a user can manipulate the sound of electronically-generated instruments such as a guitar or violin by bending, squeezing or twisting the "smartphone."

"WhammyPhone is a completely new way of interacting with sound using a smartphone," said Dr. Roel Vertegaal, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Queen's University. "It allows for the kind of expressive input normally only seen in traditional musical instruments."

Keys that correspond to musical notes generated by a nearby wirelessly-connected computer are displayed on the WhammyPhone's screen. Flexing the WhammyPhone can result in the bending of virtual guitar strings or dialing in some killer feedback when banging out a rock guitar riff or changing bow pressure (and, therefore, note dynamics) while playing a digitized violin. It is also claimed that the flexing function could be used by DJs to modulate loops in electronic dance music.

"The real importance of WhammyPhone is that it provides the same kind of kinesthetic feedback that, say, a string provides when it is bent to alter the pitch", said Dr. Vertegaal. "This kind of effect is critical for musicians to control their expression, and provides another level of utility for bend input in smartphones".

The video below shows the WhammyPhone prototype being used to make eerie music.

Top stories

Recommended for you

Latest in Electronics

Editors Choice