Technology and the creative arts are becoming increasingly connected, as different companies make huge strides with technology. From digital drawing and design, to 3D printing, the ability to use technology to be creative, and even to teach the creative arts, is growing consistently. And one of the most recent products to take this trend even further, are Sphero’s Specrdums. These innovatively blend technology, with the physical world, to create a unique musical experience. So, how does this work? And why should you be interested? Well, here at Hexnub, it’s our job, and our passion, to stay on top of the latest tech developments. Especially when these developments emerge from a robotics giant like Sphero. As a result, we have produced this guide to everything you should know about Sphero’s Specdrums.
What are Specdrums?
The newly released Specdrums are Sphero’s latest gift to the tech world, following on from the success of Sphero BOLT. These are app-enabled rings that when tapped against different colors, can play different sounds, or notes, through your mobile device. And just like Sphero’s other robotic toys, the Specdrums app allows you to turn this into a creative experience.
Essentially, Specdrums are a small ring, with a color sensor fitted to the base. When this color sensor is tapped against an area of color, this will be transmitted back to the app via Bluetooth and the associated sound or note will play from your mobile device. The latency of the sound production will depend on the device you are using, but in most cases, the sound will play almost instantly. The Specdrums ring also contains a light sensor, LED’s and an accelorometer, as well as the all important color sensor.
As a portable, and app connected color sensor, Specdrums offer an innovative and exciting opportunity to play and make music using a whole range of ordinary household objects. Fruit and vegetables, shoes and clothes, and even walls painted different colors can suddenly be transformed into instruments. In fact, the color sensor can successfully distinguish between thousands of different, unique colors, and then assign the right chord, sample, or sound to the recognized color. And this means that for any Specdrums user, the whole world becomes a musical canvas.
For the Specdrums product, Sphero have released a dedicated app: Specdrums MIX. This app enables the user to create and mix sounds, depending on the colors detected by the color sensor (on the ring). These sounds or beats can be looped, so you can create your very own, original music. This makes Specdrums a great product for both aspiring DJ’s, music lovers, and curious students alike. In fact, Specdrums offer something for every skill level, from professional musicians, to children just learning the basics.
The Specdrums Mix app offers a range of genres and curated sound packs that can help you create music in any style that suits you. These sound packs include hip-hop, house and novelty sounds. The loops included in the different sound packs can be triggered when the color sensor touches a particular color, or when it is held for a sustained period of time, over a certain color.
The app also allows the user to change the sound of the Specdrums. From a keyboard to drums, and even MIDI pads, the possibilities are literally endless. You can even use the app to assign a sound you recorded yourself, to a particular color. This expands the opportunity for creative music making exponentially. You can even assign custom colors, with custom sounds and beats, so that you can make your own music with any color, anywhere.
Unlocking creativity in the classroom
In terms of education, Specdrums can bring a wide range of benefits to the classroom, although this a piece of tech that many children (and adults alike) will enjoy in their leisure time too. So, what are these benefits? Well, there are several, including:
- Combining music with STEM- Cross-curricular delivery of different subjects is a popular and engaging way to shake up the classroom. And combining music with STEM areas and technology can be a winning combination. Not only will children using the app learn to recognize and create their own different musical notes and chords, but with loops and combinations of sounds, they will be using a wide range of math and problem solving skills.
- Creative thinking- Thinking outside the box is something the Specdrums make possible. In fact, this product makes it easy. Suddenly, everyday items have musical potential, encouraging the children in your class to think without any box at all. And as you can even use and mix sounds that you have recorded yourself, there really is no limit to the creativity Specdrums can offer.
- Work collaboratively- With the two-ring sets, children can work in pairs, using only one connected mobile device. This not only helps children learn and share ideas in a collaborative environment, but it also means that you don’t need as many tablets or iPads to bring technology and STEM into the classroom.
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