The Engineer of Invention

Ge Wang has figured out ways to turn computing devices into new musical instruments.

Loading the podcast player...

I went out to dinner recently with about a dozen entrepreneurs, investors, and technology journalists. A kitchen mishap caused an hour long delay between the appetizer and the entrée, and conversation began to lag. Folks began pulling out their iPhones—not for email, but to play “Ocarina”, a 99-cent iPhone app that lets users blow into the iPhone’s microphone while pressing on virtual keys to mimic a Mexican ocarina.

It’s an amazingly accurate representation of an ocarina, an ancient flute typically made of clay, not of electronic circuitry and software. And it’s a completely unexpected use of the iPhone. Who would have thought of blowing into the mike to make music?

Ge Wang, that’s who. Wang, a 31-year-old assistant professor at Stanford University, has spent years figuring out ways to turn computing devices into new musical instruments.

Advertisement
Advertisement