CEATEC Japan 2009: Yamaha finds a new use for your iPhone, makes a table a piano and gives a robot a voice
Just to remind you that there's more to Yamaha than just home cinema receivers and Air Wired iPod docks, the company's putting its music division to the fore here at CEATEC.
But that doesn't mean technology is taking a back seat: building on its experience of self-playing Clavinova pianos, Yamaha is taking playing an instrument into the iPhone age, with internet-connected pianos taking their cue from keystrokes recorded and available wirelessly, or even able to play along with YouTube videos.
This Play iT – Play I.T. – system is said to be good for those learning to play, those who want to leave musical notes (pardon the pun) for friends, or even people who fancy a famous pianist performing in their front room.
Whether on the classical grand being admired by a prominent politician here on opening day, or the slick piano-shaped dining table at the top of this blog – complete with a piano built-in – the Yamaha demonstration shows how pianos around the home, or even anywhere in the world, can be linked via a network of home servers and internet access.
You can even use an iPhone app to send electronic postcards complete with music, which will play on the Yamaha piano in friends homes, or play on their iPhones should they happen to visit the location you've noted – that pun again, sorry – on your phone.
Or should you want, you could even sit almost anywhere and play your piano remotely.
And just when our head was spinning with all that, a curtain drew back to reveal this.
Say hello to Lara Croft's robotic Japanese sister, otherwise known as HRP-4C. Developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science, she's equipped with an enhanced version of Yamaha's Vocaloid voice-processing software, giving her conversational ability and an improved voice. Using the same files as the Clavinovas, she sings accompanied by your player-piano. And she even takes requests.
I'll leave it up to you to click here and see how convinced you are, but sitting just a few feet from the performance was uncanny, and I'm told that when someone selected a northern Japanese song across the stand via iPhone and wi-fi, she switched into a convincing northern accent to announce it.
On Ilkla Moor Baht 'At, anyone? Or maybe Wy-aye, Robot...?