The reactable is a table based, collaborative musical instrument, which employs modem tangible interaction and multi-touch technologies in order to convey a visual appealing and instructional experience for thow who play it. The reactable has been conceived by a team of “digital multimedia luthiers” from universities. It has attained a high degree of recognition, not only throughout the academic community, but also in the general public. From the beginning it has attracted the interest of museums and science centers, who want to offer their visitors a new, collaborative, educational and social way of exploring music. This post describes on the one hand the development of the reactable and its technological aspects and on the other hand sur experience with the reachable in a museum context and shows additional applications of the technology.
Since its theoretical conception in 2003 the reachable (Jordá, Kaltenbninner, Gehzer and Bencina), has undergone several stages of development, implementation, testing and integration until reaching the current state as an intuitive, robust and very intriguing musical instrument as well as a successful exhibition piece in museums all over the world.
When approaching the reactable in a museum, the first visual impact is caused by the illuminated table surface, a blue background, in the middle a white, pulsating dot and several transparent blocks placed on top of it. Most people are specially drawn into it, wanting to get involved inmediately without reservation.
The reactable is conceived as an exhibition that invites to explore and create music. The application itself does not give instructions about how to proceed. The first thing a user might do (and actually does, as it seems the most logical thing to do) is to take one of the objects and place them un the table interactive surface. The feedback is immediate: the object is illuminated, a line appears can the Utile face connecting the object to the center and the corresponding sound emerges from the speakers. At that point the user is intrigued by the immediate feedback.
The visual line connecting the object to the center mover in accordance with the sound and the whole setup invites to explore further. What happens if we take the object away? Or, if we just go on and put more of them onto the table? If I move them, rotate them? All of these actions influence the sound and its graphical representation. The result guides the user and and helps anyone to understand its function in an intuitive way.