Social Soundmachine - Cinekid
HomeVerhalenEen interview met Ramon Schreuder over zijn ‘multitouch’ installatie “Social Soundmachine”
HomeVerhalenEen interview met Ramon Schreuder over zijn ‘multitouch’ installatie “Social Soundmachine”

Een interview met Ramon Schreuder over zijn ‘multitouch’ installatie “Social Soundmachine”

Deze blog is alleen beschikbaar in het Engels. I had a chance to talk with Ramon about his Social Soundmachine which was featured at the Cinekid and at the BvLF new media music event this year. I was curious to know more about his work and his future plan.

Social Soundmachine - Cinekid

Deze blog is alleen beschikbaar in het Engels

I had a chance to talk with Ramon about his Social Soundmachine which was featured at the Cinekid and at the BvLF new media music event this year. I was curious to know more about his work and his future plan.

The Social Soundmachine is an interactive table top, on which people can create music together. It’s like a game! The setup uses a special multi-touch surface with a number of tangible game pieces, each controlling a different set of sounds or effects. Like beat-boxes, strings, filters, melodies and even your own voice…

This project was exhibited at events around the world like Amsterdam Dance Event, Cinekid and Salone Milano and got nominated as Dutch Design Award finalist in 2009.

His initial idea for the Social Soundmachine was about creating something for art students, he was interested in interactive user experiences that connect to their music scene.

Then first at the design week fair in Milan he realized how it was used by children. Children visiting with parents in the gallery seemed to be understanding faster about the Social Soundmachine than their parents. He was struck and inspired by the experience and decided to modify the Social Soundmachine for children between 6-12 years old, when a client bought it for educational purposes.

When he had the chance to exhibit his Social Soundmachine at Cinekid, he also noticed children aged below four who lacked vocabulary to explain how they were feeling, seemed rather visually occupied and less aware they were contributing to the music. Yet, he saw how children above 6 years old quickly recognizing they were moving objects to create music.

He also saw how seamlessly children interacted with his machine much quicker than their parents. He could see that these children grew up in a digital environment. “I think grown-ups are a little skeptical or even impressed at first, but they aren’t for long but children just jumped into it and believed that it works”

Here is what he said about his experience he gained through children interacting with his Social Soundmachine and about his future work plan on creating digital media products for children.

What did you experience about children using your Social Soundmachine?

I come from an in-between generation that is analogue and digital and I could see the children nowadays live in a completely digital age. When I was fourteen I got a lot of computing, I was already working with electronic music – from Air to Jeff Mills. I performed experiments with animations, made CDs.

Nowadays, as technology develops so rapidly, sometimes it alienates us apart like how we spend our times on social networks – liking – retweeting – commenting – reblogging – instagramming – repinning. I do believe all the time we spend online is actually distracting us from real deep interaction with people.

Because I believe physical contact is so important I want the virtual and physical world to unite in my digital product. I am interested in user experience and physical interaction. With this project, I made digital products to bring people together physically instead of detaching them from each other.

During Cinekid I presented the second version of the Social Soundmachine which was a big success. I designed the Sound Machine for children eight years and older, but I was amazed to see how children aged four were also interacting with the machine. I found out that these children understood immediately how it worked. Adults were like “does this really work?”, while children were immediately enthusiastic to experiment.

I am interested in knowing what is out there and how the young children use and react to it. They are the real consumers because they don’t have preconception, they just get into it. I want to see how these kids are using the apps.

I think it will be so valuable to find out what they are doing with current digital products. Cinekid could collect the information through research and questionnaires and then aggregate the knowledge back to media producers like me. It’s so hard to invest in research although I still do some of my own research which I am proud of. It would be very helpful to have other (filtered) sources.

When you were revising the Social Soundmachine for children, where did you get your input? Did you collaborate with pedagogues and psychologists ?

For me it is really strange to see how children below two use Ipads. I have no clue even what kind of apps they like. That would be really interesting to know. It seems they just like stuff on Ipad that engages them, if I see kids with Ipads in their stroller, I sometimes look over their shoulder and watch what they are doing….

When I create something, I try to get in contact with experts. I tend to design things that I can’t create just by myself and engage myself in collaboration – that was how Social Soundmachine came about also. If I am going to make something meaningful specifically for children, I believe it’s necessary to work with people who understand children’s environment, how they think and interact.

Are there any people involved in research with young children’s new media use? I would like to know more about them… For example, yes, it would be fun to collaborate with pedagogues and psychologists, I would get deeper knowledge into children’s mind.

Did you have a chance to bring your Social Soundmachine to children in kindergartens or schools?

Kunstbalie, a Dutch organization promoting digital media environment for children, has purchased one of the Social Soundmachine. They book special shows to introduce school children to different digital interactive media products. The idea is to make children experience different digital media products as part of their learning experience. So now, Social Soundmachine is moving around for school children. Would be great to get interviews and inputs from students who have experienced different digital learning materials.

If the machine is moving around to different schools and not fixed at a place, it needs more efforts for setting up and maintaining the machine.

How can we make this kind of program for children sustainable so that many children could experience this form of interactivity and experience the use of new media in their learning environment?

A custom-made Social Soundmachine is more expensive than an average car. It is an exclusive product that would be suitable for settings like in a hotel in Dubai or a private club in LA. I was sponsored by Motorola to create the second version shown at the Salone del Mobile in Milan.

But because the young children are for me an indispensable source of inspiration for developing and testing new ideas, I would love to have means to create something for them.

However, it is pretty hard to find funding for this kind of project. To create digital electronic, physical robotic items and digital products is expensive. It also needs research efforts and building process. I don’t know yet where to reach out to get funding for my projects. Probably there are other organization like BvLF but I don’t know any yet.

I do commercial events with Social Soundmachine, they are the clients who invested in this project, Unfortunately I can’t invest any time for creating projects for children at this moment.

At the BvLF opening music event, children were curious and fascinated by your multitouch music installation. Since BvLF is interested in new media use and the future of early learning, do you have any suggestions for us how we could better support this area?

I would like to create works for children, though I feel it’s is a hard target group since I have little resources to understand this group. There needs to be more research done as well as assessing the impact of their new media use with a solid support system.

Electronic landscape changes very fast and I would love to update the Social Soundmachine with the new technologies such as the latest generation of touch screens. I would like to redesign and change things to adapt to the technical enhancement.
I believe digital interactive products like mine could play important role in the future of early learning but they need appropriate funding and research.