Scan Band turns your lunch into a playable AR musical instrument

Choose the lens, scan your snack, bang out a beat.

Artiphon, the company behind novel musical instruments the Orba (which we reviewed last year) and Instrument 1, has made an augmented reality (AR) app called Scan Band that lets users turn objects around them into virtual instruments. The company showed off the app at Snapchat’s annual Snap Partner Summit today, and Snap users can harness the new tool to add sounds to their Snaps.

Once a user’s opened Scan Band in Snapchat they can point their cameras at quotidien objects (like food, pets, plants) and they’ll be transformed into AR stickers. They can then bang out sounds on the stickers. If this sounds a little strange, check out the video below for examples. Suddenly playing with your food just became socially acceptable.

Play the pizza synth — Artiphon’s included a range of sounds, from synths and pianos, to strings, guitars and drums. Users can assign different sounds to different stickers, and include multiple stickers in one scene by repeating the object-scanning process. To “play” a sticker, a user either interacts with it in AR or can tap it on screen.

Scan Band was built using Snapchat’s new augmented reality and machine learning tools, including updated object recognition tools and a new “AudioML” tool that enabled Artiphon to import its own sounds and attach them to virtual objects.

“We've been designing AR Music technology for the past few years in secret, so we’re jazzed to finally show the world what we’ve been up to,” says Artiphon founder and CEO, Mike Butera. “For us, AR Music represents the possibility to go beyond the traditional notion that only musicians can make music.”

Artiphon’s Instrument 1.Artiphon

Very on-brand — Artiphon is indeed no stranger to unusual (but approachable) musical gear. It’s $99 Orba is a hemisphere-like MIDI controller with touch sensitive pads on top and accelerometers that allow for gesture-based pitch bending and tap-based sounds that’s designed to fit in the hand and encourages experimentation.

The $299 Instrument 1, meanwhile, a MIDI controller that looks little like a disembodied guitar fretboard but supports strumming, bowing, tapping and sliding, or a combination of the lot. Both the Intrument 1 and Orba include their own speakers so they don’t have to be connected to a smartphone, tablet or computer to play them. They’re also both a little whacky, so adding AR instruments to its portfolio isn’t exactly a surprising move from Artiphon.

Find your rhythm — To try Scan Ban out yourself, open Snapchat and point your camera at the Snapcode below. Thereafter, the Scan Band lens will appear in your Lens Carousel. Alternatively, if you’re reading this on your smartphone, open this link.