July 4, 2013

Making Music Robots

The idea of robotics being used in music making has existed long before the first real computer was ever invented.  Many of us even had devices that were automated in our homes long ago, we simply failed to appreciate where it would lead us.  Do you remember those small wind up music boxes that would play a song on based on a preset punched pad of metal bits on a roller?  It actually played each song with perfect pitch and perfect timing, so long as the winding mechanism was in tip top shape.  That very idea was used in other technological innovations, especially wartime innovations like the radio guided missile or bomb.  Today, it can still be used both physically and digitally to create less destructive devices.

Three dimensional printing make use of both programming and robotic features that operating on a three dimensional axis.  With the right tooling, they can create any sort of object, one slice at a time – but on a much simpler level they can be used to control actions on a simple two dimensional scale.  A perfect example is a stationary keyboard that is played by a sliding hammer that can only rotate side to side.  It is like time went backwards and we are back to the music box.