If anyone has every told you that they see music they listen to, they have synesthesia. It's a fascinating neurological phenomenon where people experience crossed responses to stimuli, and no one knows exactly how common this is. A rough estimate claims that one in every 5,000 to 100,000 people is a synesthete, but it could be far more common or rare. Nobody really knows.
Seeing sounds and music in colors are up there with the most common types of experiences that synesthetes have, and a new application for HoloLens named Synesthesia brings this experience to everyone. It's currently going for $2.25 in the Windows Store, and appears to be the first release by Deven T. Smith and his company Synesthesia Tech.
Synesthesia is what would best be described as a sound visualizer, much like the old trend on PCs, but with the mixed reality twist we come to expect on NextReality.
It uses the microphones on the HoloLens headset to listen for whatever sound you are playing in your room (in the video below, I was playing music on my living room television), then transforms that sound into moving scenes. You can air tap and place various types of emitters around the room using the spatial mapping data provided by the HoloLens.
- Use of spatial mapping allows for placement anywhere in your spatial map.
- Good combination of styles.
- Good sensitivity to sound.
- Fast response.
- Colors are not very vibrant, almost too dark.
- Pictures show multiple of the same types of emitters; I could only ever get one of each.
- User interface could be a little more intuitive.
The big question is... "Is this application worth $2.25?" Well, that depends on you, of course. If this is ever able to be used outside of Unity and in the Windows Holographic shell itself—like a rhythmic lava lamp—it will be great fun. But as it stands, it could definitely use a bit more work. As a developer, however, I want to support other developers, so I buy just about every app that comes to the Windows Store within a reasonable price range.
Being the first mixed reality music visualizer (that I have seen, at least) means it is going to be laying down the path for people to come in behind and learn from Deven's mistakes. But with a little love on the user interface and brighter use of color, this could be a fun go-to to zone out listening to your favorite The Flaming Lips or Mars Volta track. If this was my project, I would look at visually affecting the spatial map as well.
Are you a music lover that loves visualizers? What is your currently spending limit on HoloLens applications? Let us know in the comments below, or on our various social media outlets.