Oddball, a ball-shaped musical instrument, adds a new twist so you can be a house DJ | Tech Crunch

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Odd Ball is a company that makes fun electronic bouncy balls that let you create MIDI sounds by tapping or bouncing them. The company is adding new gestures to its device β€” including spin, twist, move, shake, and air throw β€” so you can create sounds in new ways.

With the most recent app update, the company lets you DJ a house party with these gestures. It has a DJ mode with some background tracks and on-screen instructions for gestures for that track. When you combine one or more gestures, the app plays sound effects on top of the track.

odd ball

Image Credits: odd ball

The startup now puts gestures into two categories: triggers (tap, shake, twist), which the company explains are like playing a note; and modulators (move, spin, air throw), which the company considers knobs on the console.

The intensity of the gesture is also important. The app produces a sound based on how hard or fast you spin or shake the ball.

Image Credits: odd ball

Pasquale Totaro, the company's founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that the ball has a built-in sensor that the company doesn't use. But with the new update, the startup is now making use of that sensor.

β€œThe hardware actually had a motion sensor that we didn't use at all, it just sat there. Pushing a new firmware after thought, it brings to life. Where are we now? It took a lot of R&D to unlock all the features. Imagine a trackpad that only understood taps… now it also includes zoom, pinch, drag, pan, etc. Totaro told TechCrunch via email.

He noted that the team had to work hard to distinguish one gesture from another.

Company

Oddball launched with a Kickstarter campaign in 2018, and the company began selling the first version in November 2020. Totaro says the startup wants to make the process of making music easy and fun. Playing with a ball that comes naturally to humans is one way to make that happen, he said.

“Everyone already knows how to bounce, shake and throw a ball, and all these actions are naturally already musical and rhythmic. This quality of the ball practically breaks down the initial learning barriers that a music lover has to overcome when trying to learn an instrument, equipment or software,” he said. He said.

Multiple odd balls

Image Credits: odd ball

The company has sold more than 25,000 devices with children and music lovers as primary buyers. Although Oddball does not raise any institutional money, it does have some advisors on its board. These include Glass Direct founder and Google executive Jamie Murray Wells; Ali Mostoufi, whose startup me.com Inc. Acquired by Apple in 2008; Formerly EMI and Warner Bros. Records executive Ted Cohen; and Roy Burstyn, former CEO of digital media company Mitu.

Totaro said the company is profitable and is looking to expand its product line with two devices in the works. Odd Ball is working on a version of the ball with multiple RGB LEDs for a new dimension of interaction.

Its gesture technology is adaptive and is looking to expand to other form factors as well. In particular, Totaro said Add Buy is building the potential for everyday objects to be useful in the XR/VR sector.



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