Designing Smule’s Ocarina : The iPhone’s Magic Flute

Wang, Ge

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

The Smule Ocarina is a wind instrument designed for the iPhone, fully leveraging its wide array of technologies: microphone input (for breath input), multitouch (for fingering), accelerometer, real-time sound synthesis, highperformance graphics, GPS/location, and persistent data connection. In this mobile musical artifact, the interactions of the ancient flute-like instrument are both preserved and transformed via breath-control and multitouch finger-holes, while the onboard global positioning and persistent data connection provide the opportunity to create a new social experience, allowing the users of Ocarina to listen to one another. In this way, Ocarina is also a type of social instrument that enables a different, perhaps even magical, sense of global connectivity.