A Kickstarter project called Oddball aims to put a new spin on making music. Comprised of a ball about the size of a lacrosse ball and an accompanying app, the ball behaves as a percussion trigger, making noise whenever it’s bounced off a surface.
The idea with Oddball is that a sound can be assigned to it, and then that sound is played whenever the ball is bounced. Sensors inside the ball communicate with the app via Bluetooth, and then the sound plays through your phone speakers, headphones, or wherever else you assign it. The ball is pressure sensitive, meaning the harder you bounce it, the more “intense” the sound is. The Kickstarter page doesn’t define what “intense” means here, but the assumption would be harder = louder.
The app is designed to help you use Oddball as a functional drum machine of sorts, instead of just an object that makes noise upon impact. It comes with a large sample library, allows you to record, loop, and overdub beats, and connect to multiple balls (each of which can be assigned a different sound). If you don’t want to use the app, the ball does act as a velocity sensitive Bluetooth MIDI controller, so it can be connected to use with any digital audio workstation (DAW), like Ableton or Logic to control plugins.
The beyond simple presentation and mode of playing with Oddball definitely makes it accessible as a sound-making tool to anyone, but who knows if this will be useful as a music-making tool for beginners and experienced musicians alike. Bouncing a ball to make a beat sounds fun in theory, but also seems like a gimmick that would shortly find its way to a forgotten drawer corner once the novelty wears off.
As with many crowdfunded projects, be aware of the risks that come with. It doesn’t appear that either of the company’s founders have launched a product before, and the Kickstarter page does mention that although they are close to being manufacture ready, durability testing still needs to occur. If you are interested in getting an Oddball, one will set you back £59 ($77), while a two pack costs £115 ($150).