Digital technology has undoubtedly made listening to and playing music more convenient, but the out-of-the-box thinkers at the Yamaha Design Laboratory believe that, at the same time, something has been lost.
Its response is the ‘Stepping out of the slate’ collection - a set of music devices “that work in symbiosis with smartphone apps”. Each of these is designed to bring back some of the “substantive and tactile interaction” that can create “joy, beauty, discovery, and confidence”.
First up we have the TurnT, a ‘smartphone turntable’ that enables you to place a stylus on your device’s screen, which displays a visual representation of a vinyl record. The theory is that this will “bring back the nostalgia as well as the solemn respect to the music you are about to play”.
You can change tracks by swiping on the screen and also reposition the stylus to move to different points in the song.
Next there’s Winder, a wind-up digital music box that’s dedicated to playing just one song (though this can be changed). Wind up the key to engage playback and you’ll hear movement in the music based on the flutter of the spring.
MusicLight, meanwhile, enables you to listen to music as you look into a candle flame, with the sound responding to the flutter of the flame. When the candle goes out, the music fades and leaves an “afterglow” - the experience is said to be similar to listening to a song round a campfire.
Finally, there’s RhythmBot, a group of four ornamental time-keeping robots. Each of these has a unique acoustic sound, and they can be linked to your smartphone to create rhythms based on the tempo you’re playing at. They can also “join in and accompany you in realtime”.
Whether any of these products ever makes it into production remains to be seen, but all the prototypes have been built to work as described and can be tested and evaluated.
Find out more on the Yamaha website.