Noiseboxes are a series of portable hand-held digital musical instruments designed to recreate some of the aesthetic qualities of their acoustic relatives in a completely novel design. The stand-alone format means that there is no need for cables, connections or configuration of any kind. An internal rechargeable battery and onboard speakers makes them ready to play whenever and wherever inspiration strikes.
Originally designed in 2014, the Noiseboxes began as proof-of-concept prototypes for the design of musical instruments using embedded computing. A paper on their original design was presented at the International Computer Music Conference in 2015 (https://quod.lib.umich.edu/i/icmc/bbp2372.2015.055/1). They have iterated through 3 revisions, yielding a total of seven different instruments.
The most recent instruments were built using the Prynth framework (http://prynth.github.io) developed by Ivan Franco at the Input Devices and Music Interaction Laboratory. Sound is generated with the embedded polyphonic FM synthesis engine programmed in SuperCollider. Each instrument can produce up to 8 simultaneous sustained voices with sonic output that can move from simple harmonic tones to dense chaotic noise. The external controls include buttons, knobs (on some versions), and a positional touch sensor that are mapped to voice selection, pitch, and effects parameters. An accelerometer allows the performer to control subtle sound modulations through manipulation and orientation of the instrument through physical space. Additionally, the voices can be tuned or scaled as desired and the controls flexibly mapped via ethernet or WiFi using the web-based Prynth editor.