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Design

This Wearable Is an 8-Bit, Glitch-Style Video Synth

Unusual gadget enthusiasts, meet the Quantum VJ.
August 6, 2015, 2:15pm
The Quantum VJ. Image courtesy of Alexander Zolotov.

With constant advancements being made in audiovisual technology, live musical performances have come to include everything from gigantic holograms to web-based Infinity and Lilium audiovisual art. While this broad range of stadium-sized yet laptop-ready work undoubtedly inspires, one VJ is shrinking an hypnotic sensory experience into a pocket-sized piece of hardware.

Alexander Zolotov, the Russian programmer and A/V artist behind the PixiVisor A/V tool and SunVox modular synthesizer, recently introduced the Quantum VJ, an 8-bit, glitch-style audio visualizer. The idea for the device came, as Zolotov tells The Creators Project, after he began thinking about analogue hardware versions of his software projects.

“My latest apps are related to audio visualization and sound experiments, so I decided to implement it in some cool basic devices,” he explains. “The first device was the Quantum DJ, which is a synth that listens to the electromagnetic noises and makes the ‘music’ based on this noise.”

“Quantum VJ is the logical continuation of Quantum DJ,” he adds. “It now makes the visual images from the noise or from the audio source connected to device.”

The Quantum VJ fits in your hand. Image courtesy of Alexander Zolotov.

To build the Quantum VJ, Zolotov used a monochrome OLED 128x64 display, Atmel’s line of ATtiny chips, and some other basic components, which he shows in the video introducing the A/V device. For now, Quantum VJ features a printed circuit board (PCB) used for prototyping, although in the future it will contain a higher quality PCB.

The Quantum VJ as wearable necklace. Image courtesy of Alexander Zolotov.

The key to Quantum VJ is in its sound-to-animation converter. Zolotov says that the device takes sound from the audio input port (a 3.5mm jack) and converts the signal directly into an image.

The Quantum VJ’s components. Image courtesy of Alexander Zolotov.

“There are six modes of conversion [and] all look like 8-bit glitch art,” Zolotov says. “The mode can be changed by pressing the button, and it can also visualize some electromagnetic interference when the audio input is not connected.”

The current version has no video output ports, but Zolotov might include it in future models. Zolotov envisions Quantum VJ appealing to fans of 8-bit art and what he calls “unusual gadgets,” but its appeal might be broader than Zolotov reckons.

The Quantum VJ’s components. Image courtesy of Alexander Zolotov.

“You also can use it in some live shows using it as a glitch-style pendant,” he adds. Meaning, this little guy also doubles as a wearable fashion accessory. And we could all use some of this cyberpunk fashion, couldn’t we?

Click here to learn more about the Quantum VJ.

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