–How would you describe a musical instrument?
–How does it make sound?
–Sometimes computers are attached to musical instruments, like
a piano. What might be the advantage of that?
–Computers have inputs and outputs. Outputs include your
computer’s speakers, monitor and electrical signals that control other devices
such as a printer. But how do you input commands to your computer, telling it
what you want it to do? What device or devices do you use?
–Mute usually means to utter no sound. But in this story, the
MUTE technology does what?
–A computer keyboard is a type of sensor. But in MUTE and
TAI-CHI other types of sensors are used. What do they sense?
–These sensors rely on acoustics. What is that?
–What’s a Sound Rose?
–How might TAI-CHI speed a restaurant order?
–How might systems based on acoustic sensors change the idea of
what a musical instrument is?
–How might the same idea be applied to improve the lives of
people with disabilities or the elderly? Where would you install them to
simplify your life?
–What are the advantages of a standard computer mouse as an
input device, compared to acoustic sensors?
–What are the risks of making a spot on your desk or the
kitchen table into a computer-input device? (Hint: What if you put a book or
milk glass down hard?)
–In a few short years, computers went from being room-sized
machines to machines as small, portable as a notebook or, in some cases (such as
iPods or Blackberries), a deck of cards. Discuss how acoustic-input devices
might expand the way we think of computers and where we use them.
–How would the MUTE and TAI-CHI systems change the way we make
music? Is that a good thing or would you prefer the old acoustical instruments —
strings, winds, drums and horns? Explain your preference.
–How might these acoustic-sensor inputs to computers save
energy in homes or businesses?
–Imagine a computer-controlled world without keyboards.
Describe a day in your life in this world.
–You’re going to make a MUTE-based musical instrument,
recording sounds that your instrument will later associate with various spots on
a tabletop. Describe in two paragraphs what sounds you’d collect and why.
Imagine a band made out of five such MUTE systems. Describe in up to three
paragraphs the challenges you might encounter — and have to overcome — in
writing or orchestrating music for this MUTE combo. (HINT: What would happen if
this band travels a lot.)
–Imagine that your neighbor was injured in an auto accident and
confined to a wheelchair with no use of her legs. Describe how, as a MUTE or
TAI-CHI engineer, you would set up their bedroom, living room and kitchen to
maximize that neighbor’s use of those rooms and what’s in them.