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Mobile phone xylophone: Canadians use phones to create musical art

Over in Canada, mobile phone users are not content with making calls, writing texts, browsing the internet, listening to music, social networking and making the screens spell out rude words using the calculator apps – no, they want more from their phones. They want their mobile phones to help create sweet, sweet music.

In the video above you’ll see a Canadian man dazzling a lady by-stander with his ability to control a rather haphazard xylophone using nothing more than his mobile phone. As part of the Mobile Experience Lab at the Ontario College of Art and Design, visitors can dial a freephone number and enter various key combinations which correspond to arpeggios and make the xylophone notes hop and skip into life. The patterns entered using the phone’s keypad are relayed, via VOIP,  to a server that controls the xylophone through a custom-made control board.

Sounds complicated, no? Don’t worry about the mechanics of it, just sit back and enjoy the slightly random plinky-plonky music and revel in the fact that it was sort-of created by a mobile phone.

The Cellphone Xylophone is part of the Mobile Experience Lab, which seeks to marry immersive, multimedia art works with everyday mobile devices. As well as the musical sculptures, the project has transformed a street in Toronto into a Broad Locative Environment – aka a street chock full of mobile-controlled art installations like triggering swarms of electronic cicadas using their phones as they wander down the street. The Lab also runs other cool mobile-related projects like Robot Vision, where a couple of remote-controlled robots battle it out, each equipped with a Wi-Fi camera so viewers can stream the video from the midst of the fight on their handsets.

For more mobile art installations, visit the Mobile Experience Lab and enjoy other videos on its YouTube channel.