--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.