I know what you’re thinking.
“That’s not a drumset. That’s a ball.”
And you’d be right. But you’d also be wrong.
Oddball is the newest and most interesting thing that has been kicked into the land of the living by the site that starts the kicking, aka Kickstarter, and has made its name by being one of the most unusual ideas I have witnessed in some time.
No, not quite as unusual as that Self-Pouring Coffee Pot that thinks its worth $700 – This is a good kind of unusual. The kind of unusual that makes me ask, “How” instead of “Why”. The kind of unusual that makes me want to tell other people about how nutty this thing is. Which brings us here.
So what is Oddball? Let’s get one thing straight: Yes, it is a ball. More importantly, however, it’s the best kind of ball: A bouncy ball. A bouncy ball that you can take with you wherever you go, so long as you don’t get carried away on busy sidewalks. And a bouncy ball that you can also use to explore your musical talent, because believe it or not, there is a drumset in there.
Oddball is a two-part system: One part ball, and one part app. According to the Kickstarter page, the ball “behaves as the percussion trigger. Every time you bounce it off a surface, sensors at the heart of the ball communicate with the app via Bluetooth to play a sound through your headphones, speakers, or just the internal speaker on your phone.”
And as with the best of percussion instruments, the amount of force in your strike can make a big difference: “Oddball is pressure sensitive – The harder you bounce it the more intense the sound, the lighter you bounce it the more delicate. ”
Using the app, the sounds created by the ball can be customized to your liking. For example, say the ball gets away from you and crawls its way under a hot dog stand. Aand after the friendly stand operator helps you get your ball back, you think back to the beats that ran through your head while you chased after the little guy and realized it made some really catchy sounds. Check back through the device’s history, and you can save those sounds for later use – which can then be exported to the music-making program of your choice for maximum option selection.
In addition to being bouncy, the ball is also quite durable, as are the pressure sensors. It’s so durable, for example, that the Kickstarter page even encourages users to use it in place of a tennis ball, and drop a speaker nearby for some techno-tennis action.
And while you’re using a speaker to broadcast your odd soundtrack, why not up the ante with a performance to go with it? Although the Kickstarter page doesn’t put too much emphasis on this aspect of the product, it seems logical that there’d be a lot of potential for this ball to be used during live performances. Think about it: Visually, watching someone do tricks with a ball is a lot more interesting than watching them hit buttons on a saxophone, so what if they were also playing live music as they moved? I’m betting on the emergence of at least a few hippie street bands after this ball goes live.
And now for the final question: How much? About $76 for one ball, one charging cable, and the app. A bit over what I would have expected, especially considering how quickly a bouncy ball can fly out of the hands of an untrained bouncer. Still, if this device has as much depth as it claims to, it could end up being a worthwhile investment for the young musician. It offers the ability to find, discover, and create beats on the go, as well as bringing musical flavor to a host of regular activities.
But hey, still the smallest drumset you’ve ever seen.
Featured Image via the Oddball Kickstarter Page.