MIT’s zero-gravity musical instrument provides a soundtrack for space travel

By Luke Dormehl

From Furby synth orchestras to an oddball cyberpunk saxophone, we’re no strangers to writing about weird, otherworldly instruments here at Digital Trends. But a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab project takes the “otherworldly” part of this equation quite literally—with an instrument that is designed specifically for astronauts to play in the zero-gravity expanse of space.

“The Telemetron is the first electronic musical instrument to be designed specifically to be performed in zero gravity,” Sands Fish, one of the co-creators (with Nicole L’Huillier) of the futuristic instrument, told Digital Trends. “We were interested in capturing the poetics of motion in zero gravity, so we built a chamber with a number of elements inside that we call chimes. While they don’t make any audible sounds themselves, they each contain a gyroscope that can detect how fast each of the chimes are spinning in any direction. We take these rotational speeds and wirelessly transmit them to a nearby laptop, where they are transformed into sounds.”

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