AES Journal Forum

Co-design of a Smart Cajón

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Smart Instruments are a family of musical instruments that embed sensors, actuators, wireless connectivity, and semantic audio technologies. This report describes one such example, a Smart Cajón, which is a box-shaped percussion instrument that includes Internet of Musical Things components. Co-design sessions were conducted with five professional cajón player participants. The players were invited to devise tangible mock-ups by placing the provided sensors on an acoustic cajón, and to express desirable use cases and interactions. A prototype was developed on the basis of the designs produced by participants who also took part of an evaluation session. Results showed that all participants personalized the integration of the new gestures afforded by the sensor into their normal playing technique, generating different ways of expressing themselves. These novel pathways for expression were not possible with commercially available cajones, which are not equipped with the involved sensors, gesture-to-sound mappings, and wireless connectivity to external equipment such as smartphones. Participants adapted to the instrument, coping with its limitations and exploiting it in creative ways. Flaws of the instrument were used in a creative way, as for example, deliberately triggering low-frequency sounds in the top position where they should not be present.

JAES Volume 66 Issue 4 pp. 220-230; April 2018
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