Sometimes you don't have all the money in the world to buy a clunky $200 piece of hardware to make music. Sometimes all you have...is a piece of paper. Paper Launchpad enables you to have the same experiences as professional music content creators do with a simple thing that you can salvage from your dorm printer. The 8.5 x 11' canvas is your playground for music. Can you launch your latest mixtape with Paper Launchpad?
As college students and music enthusiasts, we've always wanted our own launchpads. We really wanted to reduce the barrier to entry to experiences that usually only those who can afford it can experience.
We're the Music Scribblenauts allowing you to bring your drawings to life!
What it does
Draw your own launchpad on paper, then play it for real and save $200!
You are free to draw boxes in any configuration on a piece of paper and adjust it until it calibrates for the boxes that you've drawn, then you can choose a song to play! Finally, the boxes you've just drawn will be mapped to sounds and by touching the paper, you produce music.
How we built it
We used the MacBook webcam and edge detection algorithms to turn world space into black and white and then used contour finding algorithms in order to figure out and make sense of the user drawn shapes. Next, we define areas where users can "tap" on the paper and map those to virtual "buttons" on the launchpad. When the user goes to tap the button, their finger is processed and the virtual button is triggered, creating sounds!
We used OpenCV for the image detection and the shape detection, and Kivy for the sound playback.
Challenges we ran into
What is so special about a human finger? And how could we use that in order to actually trigger sound? Figuring out how to determine what constituted a finger press, making sure that we were able to detect shapes on the paper and creating bounding boxes for those, and figuring out how to assign songs and beats to buttons was a hard process. We had difficulties figuring out what to do when fingers overlapped, or when sounds needed to be played on loop or not.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're really happy that we figured out how to use computer vision to enable accessible experiences for those who can't afford expensive music equipment. It was really cool to explore the space of alternative controls and alternative mediums for music and technology. Also, we learned how to analyze the shapes in the real world and translate them into meaningful educational experiences.
Using Paper Launchpad, we can foster a better music community by allowing people who traditionally can't access music to have full range and customization over a tool that can launch their music careers.
Honestly, making something that we both would use and having something fun to play with was a great experience.
What we learned
How to use OpenCV, how the nitty gritty of Launchpads work, and how to stay up all night.
What's next for Paper Launchpad
Allowing for manual configurations, adding more sounds and a more consistent configuration scheme.