I recently conducted a phone interview with Percussa founder and AudioCube inventor Bert Schiettecatte. I think music artists, visual artists, sound designers, those interested in tangible interfaces for installations, and music technology fans will all enjoy this interview – even if you are not in the market for a tangible interface. Below is a brief context-setting introduction. If you want to jump straight to the interview click here.
If you’ve been following Modulate This you know I’ve been using AudioCubes, a tangible interface made by Percussa. As I started using the cubes, I began contacting Percussa with questions. Percussa is a small company in Belgium and Bert Schiettecatte the founder and inventor of AudioCubes himself is happy to talk with customers directly which I found quite refreshing.
I have to say that prior to my experience with AudioCubes, I didn’t know much about tangible interfaces and the more I talked with Bert, the more I began to understand how big of an innovation Percussa AudioCubes actually are.
Most tangible interfaces are comprised of an infrastructure of components that include tables with special surfaces, cameras, projectors, software, and computers. In most cases they are very, very expensive, not very portable, and require a lot of calibration if they are moved. In other words, tangible interfaces are out of reach for most artists.
Bert formed Percussa with the radical goal of producing an affordable portable self-contained tangible interface that you could throw in a backpack and that eliminated the infrastructure. The result is the AudioCube. Each cube is a wireless, battery powered, autonomous computer that can be used as a performance interface to music software.
Below is a recent phone interview I conducted with Bert. In this interview Bert discusses his time at the CCRMA lab at Stanford and the founding of Percussa. He also offers an introduction to tangible interfaces; and a detailed run-down on Percussa AudioCubes, their function, their electronics and how they compare with other tangible interfaces. He goes on to discuss some of the FREE apps that Percussa provides AudioCube users. Note – I originally planned on a 5-10 minute interview but after editing I ended up at around 24 minutes. Bert had a lot of interesting things to say, so I decided to offer all 24 minutes.
0:19 – Stanford and Laser Harps
1:21 – Founding Percussa
2:13 – What are Tangible Interfaces?
3:23 – AudoCubes Explained
5:35 – On Overview of the LED System
6:37 – Overview of the FREE apps That Work with AudioCubes
11:48 – Where Do People Go to Get the Apps?
12:26 – OS Platforms, drivers and AudioCube fabrication
13:43 – How do AudioCubes compare to other tangible interfaces
17:16 – What are typical uses of AudioCubes and who is using them?
18:11 – Art installations
19:50 – Packaging, where to buy and shipping
21:28 – Where to go to learn more
23:03 – Thanks Bert
- Modulate This Category Dedicated to AudioCubes
- Official Percussa Site
- Bert from Percussa on Twitter
- AudioCubes on Facebook
- Percussa YouTube Channel
Electronic Music Artist, Composer, Sound Designer