University of Michigan Has An iPhone Instrument Class [Video]

Posted Dec 4, 2009

This one time at band camp, I played an iPhone. Next week at the University of Michigan there will be a public performance of a band playing instruments. These aren’t ordinary instruments. As a matter of fact, they are iPhones. The public performance will be taking place as part of the “Building a Mobile Phone Ensemble” course.

Every iPhone played by the band is programmed to make different sounds when each function of the phone is used. This includes the microphone, GPS, compass, wireless sensor, touchscreen, and accelerometer. The professor behind the project is Georg Essl. Essl was instrumental (pun intended) for the development of the iPhone app Ocarina, developed by Smule. Smule is the company that recently released the auto-tune I Am T-Pain app as well.

Essl and his colleagues were the first ones known to have used a micrphone as a wind sensor. This is one of the tactics that is used by Ocarina. The Mobile Phone Ensemble course is believed to be the first of its kind where music, engineering, and interactive media arts are combined.

To follow the performances of the Mobile Phone Ensemble band, you can check out their Facebook page. You will also notice that the band’s uniform is the signature black shirt and jeans look that Steve Jobs goes for.