Graduates of London's Royal College of Art Nathan Webb and Pasquale Totaro want to make music creation accessible to everyone, and have launched the Oddball to do just that. Combining a very familiar object with wireless tech, digital audio and pressure sensors, their project is essentially a beat maker in a bouncy ball.
The Oddball comes in two parts – a pressure sensitive colorful ball that acts as a percussion trigger for a Bluetooth-connected iOS/Android app. The app is home to "expansive audio libraries" to allow players to get creative with bouncing beats, and can also be used to record, loop and play beats, jam along to favorite songs and allows beat-makers to share their creations with each other. Sounds are output via a portable speaker or headphones connected to the smart device running the app.
The water-resistant ball is designed to take a pounding, with a protective core that's home to the electronics and battery contained within a tough polyurethane outer shell. That built-in battery is good for 6 hours between charges and topped up over USB.
Sounds from an Oddball fire in the app when it's thrown against a wall, tossed in the air to sound off when it lands or just finger-tapped on its surface. And the harder it bounces, the more intense the sound. The system caters for multiple Oddballs to be used simultaneously, too, and can serve as a velocity-sensing Bluetooth MIDI controller in music production software such as Ableton and Logic Pro.
To the casual observer, it might look like you're playing a game of catch with a friend, having a fast-paced game of tennis or juggling brightly colored balls in the air. But in reality, you'd be generating beats and grooves. What fun! On the downside, if you want to mix things up on the fly, throwing a ball and fiddling with an app at the same time could prove a little trying.
The Oddball project is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter, where pledges start at £49 (US$65). If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in January 2019. The video below has more.
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