Traditionally, open hardware approach lets anyone with a bit of experience (and curiosity) in electronics building small products for him/herself and of course interested people. Moreover, there is another interesting trend making more and more people able to tinker with electronic boards: projects based on small PCBs you don't have to program, but simply use connecting a few cables to physical objects. Mosty, these projects deal with music: we already wrote about MusicInk, from England is coming Ototo (small brother, in japanese), a little PCB synthesiser that can turn any object into a musical instrument, you need only to use its sensors and input pins.

Creating a musical instruments with Ototo is easy. The board, slightly larger than a cassette tape, shows 12 input pins corresponding to 12 keys of a musical keyboard. The pins must be connected, using cables with crocodile clips, to conductive elements which will work as actual keys: when you touch one of these elements, a circuit is closed and Ototo emits the note correponding to the specific key from its integrated speaker. As a "key" you can use almost anything conductive: metal objects, metal strips, conductive ink on paper and so on.

Four sound properties (tone, frequency…) can be changed in real time using four other specific input pins designed to be connected to sensors or other control elements. As an example, Ototo staff explains that you can connect a light sensor to the tone input pin, to create a light-controlled theremin. You can also use a (simpler) potentiometer to manually control a sound property.

Ototo integrates a speaker but also a mini-jack for audio output, and takes its power from two AAA batteries or a micro USB port. It's not commercially available, but it should be later this year. More info here.

 

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