The Nintendo Wii is a revolutionary video game console, not because of its processing power or graphics capabilities – neither of which are extraordinary – but because of its controller, the Wii Remote.
Essentially a $40 high-resolution IR camera with a 3D accelerometer and Bluetooth radio, the Wii Remote is very interesting to DIY types. There has been enough homebrew activity that there are freely available drivers and APIs to integrate their use into custom computer applications.
These hacks only took advantage of the IR camera. Rob Morris is taking a different tack, using the accelerometer to allow him to turn on and off guitar effects in conjunction with MAX/MSP (a audio signal processing tool).
The first example he provides is a simple effect on/off switch. But the second, a granular synthesis filter, is something no effects pedal could do.
The potential of this idea is without limit. On its own or in conjunction with another device, whole new instruments are possible. The ability to convert motion into sound can be used in any number of ways. Guitar bodies, drum heads, performer’s body – all could be interesting motion generators.
In a concert setting, the IR camera could be used to detect lights (say stage lights or concertgoer lighters) which would make an interesting random signal generator for a synthesizer.
I found the Rob Morris info on Soul Pancake, a new website by Rainn Wilson (TV’s Dwight Schrute) intended to foster discussion of creativity and spirituality. This will be an interesting site to watch.