The Ototo project is not exactly made in Japan but nevertheless made by Japanese, at least partially. Sound artist/inventor Yuri Suzuki and similar minded Mark McKeague are the masterminds behind the London based design and invention studio Dentaku. Since forming Dentaku they have created robots, contraptions and machines for clients such as W+K Portland and AIAIAI. They are now developing their own products that explore new ways of making sound with technology.
We work closely with companies to create machines, products and experiences. The core of our expertise lies in combining sound, design and technology, but we also tap into our strong network of multidisciplinary collaborators depending on the needs of the project.
Among other things the team comes up with wonderful and weird inventions like the Oreo Separator Machine for Oreo’s ‘Cookie vs Creme’ campaign in early 2013:
Their first product, a musical invention kit is called Ototo (“young brother” in Japanese) is meant to enable anyone to quickly and easily create their own electronic musical instrument which can be anything from a drum-kit made out of saucepans to origami that sings when touched.
The Ototo board contains 12 touch pads which allow you to play notes when touched. You can connect conductive objects and materials to the Ototo, then touch them to trigger sounds.
The core of the kit is the PCB synthesiser, slightly larger than a cassette tape, which works as a musical keyboard straight out the box. By using crocodile clips you can connect the board to conductive materials which will then trigger the sounds.
The sound can also be changed by connecting electronic modules to the four onboard sensor inputs. For example you can easily build a light theremin by connecting a light sensor to control the pitch.
We wanted to create a kit that makes physical computing and interactive projects accessible for everyone. Getting into coding and understanding electronics can be a barrier for creativity, Ototo allows anyone to build amazing electronic sound projects with minimal knowledge.
– Yuri Suzuki, Co-Founder of Dentaku
Ototo has been developed with Near Now, Broadway’s commissioning and artist development programme. Near Now works closely with artists and designers to produce and present playful projects that explore the place of technology in everyday life.
Dentaku @ V&A
Dentaku will introduce Ototo at the Friday Late event at Victoria and Albert Museum in London on Friday 31th January 2014. Friday Late is a rather large event with more than 4700 registered guests. Visitors will able to get their hands on Ototo and build instruments out of craft materials such as cardboard, aluminium foil and paper cups.
— Yuri Suzuki (@yurisuzuki) January 26, 2014
At the same time Dentaku are launching Ototo on Kickstarter to raise funds to start the first production run of the Ototo kits. The Kickstarter campaign will be live today (Friday, 31th January 2014 12:00 GTM = 21:00 JST) and we wish them all the best of success to bring Ototo into everybody’s pocket.
Backers are able to choose from variety of kits which include different sensors to experiment with such as light, force, and breath as well as more standard dials and sliders.
Ototo key features
- 12 key capacitive touch keyboard (1 octave) with connectors
- 4 sensor inputs, 5V analog input
- Onboard speaker and 3.5mm headphone output
- Powered by 2 x AA batteries or micro USB
- No coding required
- 128Mb Flash memory
The kit uses characters created by illustrator Naomi Elliott to represent the electronic functions of the board. Along with the board Dentaku will be providing an illustrated guide that helps you to discover how to use the board.
Kickstarter Project Page
The great news about the Kickstarter campaign was confirmed with the designers directly Thursday evening (JST Japan Time), therefore the project page on Kickstarter will only be live from around 21:00 JTS:
Dentaku / Yuri Suzuki & Mark McKeague