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Question Sheet: Music of the Future

SCIENCE

Before Reading:

--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?

During Reading:

--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?

After Reading:

--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?)

SOCIAL STUDIES

--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?

LANGUAGE ARTS

--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.

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