DistributeDJ: Mobile Group Interaction Toolkit

DDJ Demo 1.
The communication back-channel enables social communications. This information feedback is integrated into the visual display of input controls.

The activity of technology enhanced group music making can offer intriguing insights into musical interaction, new ideas on education and performance, and provide non expert musicians an effortless opportunity to participate. Collaborative improvisations often have a looser structure then traditionally composed interactive situations, but in most cases there are still sets of structural frameworks to be followed. DistributeDJ, a group music and interaction service created by CREL researcher Daniel Shapira, aids in the creation and execution of flexible collaborative mobile education environments and music performances. Designed to run through a web browser, the system provides a communication layer between a central performance server and multiple clients that are used to actively manipulate the contents of delivered audio or visuals through the participant's mobile interface.

System Diagram

The structural setup of DistributeDJ is similar to other multi application interaction solutions, providing both a client interface and message mapping capabilities. The advantage DistributeDJ has over previous architectures are the two main research goals of the project: to promote accessibility for wider adoption of mobile collaborative interaction as well as increased real-time control through an information feedback channel that actively manipulates the contents of participant's instrument interface.

DDJ Display
Composition Module holds information about the state of system interactions. Metrics detect potential breakdown in the ongoing musical conversation and steps can be taken to remedy the situation.

  • Master Server: The Master Server functions as the dedicated initial communication point for a user searching for a collaborative performance to join.
  • Audio/Visual Engine: The Audio/Visual Engine is what produces the audio or visual result of the group collaboration and presents it back to the group.
  • The Composition: The Composition is the information core of the group performance. It ºs main functionality includes setting up and dynamically pushing the user interfaces to the client apps, relaying mapped user input to the Audio/Visual Engine ºs input parameters, and playing through a pre-composed DistributeDJ score which can contain definitions for sample playback, logic based parameter mappings, new UI configurations, messages to individual performers, and many more commands.
  • Client Applications: The Client is the interaction point of contact for the user while they participate in the group performance.
  • UI Composer: The UI Composer is a tool used during the creation of a mobile group collaborative performance which aids in the configuration of the user interfaces.
  • Communication Module: The Communication Module is the Performance Server ºs data conduit between the Composition, the multiple performing Clients, and the Audio/Visual Engine.

Educational Applications

K-12: The composer Xenakis saw the education potential of the UPIC and similar tools from its inception. Technologies such as interactive chalkboards are being used in schools with measurable success. The DistributeDJ and similar tools are a viable method for bringing innovative education interactivity to the classroom. In addition to musical education, DistributeDJ can be used to create real-time and hands-on collaborative interactions with material such as mathematical simulations, visual and musical explorations of scientific data sets, creating rapid multimedia pop-quizzes, and many more potential applications. The DistributeDJ system can also aid in the evaluation of a student's exposure to educational topics by tracking that student's level of interaction and intensity of interaction with those materials. Intelligent lessons can be created to adapt to each student's particular interests but also ensure that required topics have been properly presented.

Music and sound exploration: Studies have shown that interactive information systems in museums do not properly address social considerations, particularly when dealing with family dynamics. Optional syncing of audio playback within the group, location based interactions, and group interest indicators are some features achievable with DistributeDJ or similar tools. Some related situations are sharing sound tags at specific locations within a city or the using this technology for a collaborative scavenger hunt.

Music Therapy: The simple act of being exposed to music and having limited involvement with its production has been shown to have health benefits such as stress reductions in heart patients and can help with with communication skill of children with special needs.