July 16, 2015 | By Alec

New digital creation techniques are absolutely revolutionizing production in a large number of fields, and not just in the 3D printing community. Creating music has also become an almost entirely digital affair, as guitars are plugged into computers in recording studios and DJs proudly call their laptops instruments. But one Brooklyn-based startup has developed a very interesting way to look at that digitization. If digital music consists of soundwaves, why can’t you 3D print them to give music physical shape? That is, in a nutshell, what REIFY is all about. The REIFY team has just taken to Kickstarter with very interesting 3D printed totems that have been embedded with songs; to press play, all you need to do is scan the totem with an app.

Of course, this isn’t the first 3D printed reflection of music – we’ve previously seen projects where the sound waves of small phrases are turned into 3D printed objects – but REIFY is the first to actually make 3D printed reflections of songs playable. Essentially, they have created a new level of interaction between artists, music, and fans, as the totems have been specifically designed by the artists themselves – you could almost call it 3D printed album art. Now who wouldn’t want to touch and experience a song from their favorite artist? In the founders’ own words, ‘REIFY is a physical music platform that combines the best of both physical and digital music technology, and creates a new way to experience music.’

Equally remarkable is the speed with which REIFY has been developed. It has been masterminded by CEO Allison Wood and tech wizardKei Gowda, who met as residents at NEW INC, a technology incubator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Nine months ago, they began working on the REIFY platform together with creative coder David Lobser and UX/UI Designer Christine Whitehall.  Between the four of them, REIFY has been focused on making the experience of creating 3D printed objects from soundwaves better than ever before through a multi-dimensional platform that includes their own custom smartphone app that essentially allows users to “listen” to the 3D sculptures.  

SO how does it work exactly? ‘Our platform lets artists express their music in physical and visual form, and gives fans an interactive, multi-sensory experience that they can share with others,’ the founders write on Kickstarter. ‘We make totems that visually represent an artist's song, and encode them with music and interactive visual experiences that you can play on your mobile phone or tablet. The mobile app used to play totems is called Stylus.’ Scanning the totem with your phone essentially releases the music, albeit through your phone’s speaker.

This interesting concept has been refined over the last nine months. 'We’ve designed hundreds of experimental totems for many different kinds of music. Through many beautiful trials and educational errors we've established an audio-to-physical design process where each totem can look and feel as unique as the song it represents...while remaining structurally sound,’ they explain. Currently, all totems have been 3D printed in PLA, though they have already experimented with special edition bronze casts too.

They have also already partnered with a number of musicians to create functional totems. ‘We first provide a range of visual interpretations of a specific song, in the form of abstract 3D models. These models are based on both the artist's creative goals and the automated mapping of various musical attributes to physical and visual ones by Harmony, our custom audio-to-physical engine and parametric design software,’ Through a collaborative process, this effort then results in a totem that can be 3D printed and is fully supported by the artist themselves.

However, they have now taken to Kickstarter to take this project to the next level. Gathered funds will be used to design and build totems for all the artists collaborating in the project - noise band Health, classical violinist Tim Fain, Yacht and Mae – as well as the further development of their app and software. Finding and funding a production manager for mass manufacturing is also on the list. Interested? You can head over to their Kickstarter page here. A pledge of $75 is enough to get your own hands on one of these amazing totems.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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