Real-life musical composition through virtual means

a mobile application controlled ukulele-playing robot
Christine Dierk, Joel Hollingsworth
Christine Dierk with mobile application controlled ukulele-playing robot

Computational devices are finding their way into many aspects of our real world. These devices are frequently used to either simplify some process or enhance the ability of the person using the device. We explore the design, implementation, and implications of a mobile-application controlled ukulele-playing robot. The main purpose of our research is to seamlessly integrate virtual and real spaces in a way that enhances the skill and ability of the user. To accomplish this, we designed and implemented an Android tablet application for the construction of ukulele chord progressions. Our primary focus was designing a user interface that was intuitive, such that a novice could easily compose chord progressions. Our next task was to create the physical robot: our main goal being the preservation of natural sound. Finally, we integrated the two components using wireless sockets. We discuss the complementary nature of software and hardware, as well as the implications for such a robot in terms of user ability and alternative methods of learning.