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LEGO DJ robot using vision system

By NKJensen in MLP
Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 01:16:40 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

I found this on the Lego site, so it may be old news by now. Still, this is a cute robot ready to be your DJ at the next party. If no movement is detected on the dance floor, it will play another track - perhaps on another CD. All by itself.


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LEGO DJ robot using vision system | 30 comments (24 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
cute.. but no thanks (3.11 / 9) (#2)
by semis on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 07:39:12 AM EST

As someone who plays around DJ'ing (with REAL Vinyl - the way it's meant to be done), and who has had the opportunity to meet and see some of the world's greatest DJ's.. I really don't get how this thing could ever work. The whole point of DJ'ing is to get a feel for the atmosphere of a party.. bring everyone together and build the moment.. and take the crowd through a journey. Simply whacking on a playlist of Top40 is NOT DJ'ing. And really, how is this lego robot going to do anything other than that?

Re: cute.. but no thanks (2.60 / 5) (#4)
by IoaPetraka on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 08:02:04 AM EST

Yup, as a person who frequents events and has been going to raves since they actually were Raves and not the commodity they are now, the DJ is such an integral and important part of everything. I think a lot of people do not realize just how much work goes into being DJ. It isn't just getting a feel for the music and being able to mix well, while this is very important and difficult, the true artistry comes when the DJ is live and knows what you want.

Probably the best show I've been to is the one the late Underworld would put on. The whole crew had a vibe with the crowd and it was truly a euphoric experience. There is no way with our current technology that such a show could ever be replicated by a robot. Just monitoring how much the crowd is dancing isn't enough. If the crowd isn't dancing (or tranced out) you've already lost.

I've been to good and bad parties. The bad ones have 90% of the people lurking around the dancefloor watching the 10% who are at least TRYING to have fun. The good shows...well, you don't remember the details of those. :)

Interesting article though, so I'll mark it up, as a toy this is pretty cool.

Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]

The impossibility of automated DJing (2.60 / 5) (#7)
by Aquarius on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 09:27:17 AM EST

The whole crew had a vibe with the crowd and it was truly a euphoric experience. There is no way with our current technology that such a show could ever be replicated by a robot. Just monitoring how much the crowd is dancing isn't enough.

I'm curious, here. What exactly do you mean by a "vibe" in this sense? When a DJ senses the mood of the crowd, what is he sensing?
Are DJs somehow able to sense things that "normal" people cannot? I find it difficult to imagine myself sensing the mood of a crowd except by rather gross metrics (noise, dancing, etc), and it strikes me that the sort of metrics I'd use might well be mimicable by technology. Now, is this because technology really could notice the right metrics, or because I'd be an incompetent DJ? ;)

My point here is that I don't think that DJs are telepathic (or empathic in the real sense, not like, say, Deanna Troi), so there must be some way of learning these things. Could technology quantify feelings in these ways?

A side question: if we wanted to build some piece of technology that could attempt to work out moods, would it be easier to divine the mood of one person, or the overall mood of a crowd?

"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
[ Parent ]
Re: The impossibility of automated DJing (3.16 / 6) (#11)
by Janek Mann on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 11:56:39 AM EST

Actually, humans are a lot more emphatic than you might think; basically really small cues like pupil dilation, subtle motions, the way people move.

Basically the human brain has evolved to pick these kind of things out and is incredibly good at it... A famous example is being able to tell that somebody is looking you in the eyes from across a big room. That would be incredibly tough for a computer vision system to achieve.

So I would agree that it would be impossible to do an automatic system to replace a top DJ, however a system to replace the tapes played in pubs for example could well be useful. And it could even be better than a crap DJ ;)

In any case, of course, the only practical way to do this is to use MP3s or equivalent, since a lot of meta information on the songs is required... Using CD's just wouldn't make much sense for this.

[ Parent ]
Re: The impossibility of automated DJing (2.00 / 5) (#21)
by 11oh8 on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:16:16 PM EST

I think people are reading too much into this.... This wasn't created by Lego (or it's parent company) as a way to replace or obivate DJs.... This was created by a Lego user as probably just a cool project.. Of course it's not as "full featured" as a real human being.. but i don't think that's the point... The guy who made this obviously likes to hack around with Legos and made IMO a really cool and interesting project... If you think about it, it's actually amazing that something made out of legos could be this tecnically sophisticated...


[ Parent ]
Re: The impossibility of automated DJing (2.00 / 2) (#22)
by IoaPetraka on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:53:12 PM EST

Of course, the actual seed of our conversation has very little to do with what it has evolved into. Hey, that is what discussion is for, and since this topic started out with a very dry repost-the-link-and-run style story, hell, why not go off on a tangent.


Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]

Re: The impossibility of automated DJing (1.00 / 2) (#23)
by plastik55 on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:53:34 PM EST

Take a look at GDAM. It's an mp3-based DJ program with support for metadata (BPM) which allows automated beat matching.
[ Parent ]
Re: The impossibility of automated DJing (3.40 / 5) (#12)
by IoaPetraka on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 11:57:36 AM EST

Interesting points.

I'm curious, here. What exactly do you mean by a "vibe" in this sense? When a DJ senses the mood of the crowd, what is he sensing?

The difference between a DJ, or anybody for that matter who is working with an audience, and this robot is this: Simple observation and reaction is not enough. One must have an Understanding of the audience to relate to them. This is fundamental and taught in every speech 101 class. If you do not know your audience, you are going to have a much rougher time. So a sense of culture is important. Unless this robot was programmed ahead of time with a vast amount of information and possibilities, this wouldn't be a factor in its performance. (I doubt it comes stock with that)

Another important aspect of this is Anticipation. Drawing from your Understanding of the crowd, you need to not only react, but anticipate. This involves prediction, a very complex system when relating to Understanding, and something that good crowd managers posesses on an almost unconscious level. To mimic this ability in a robot would require exceeding complex structures.

Timing is the next critical component. If you are merely watching the crowd and reacting to their reactions you are behind the momentum and doing nothing but playing tennis against a wall, which is exactly what this robot is doing. You have to be there with that beat or sound that you've been building up to, and you have to hit it a moment before the crowd expects it. This is something that does not require as much crowd involvement because here is where you are taking the crowd on a journey. It is, after all, your show. As much as you shift it to tailor it to their reaction, they are there to listen to you perform.

So, the points you brought up about sensing metrics, are valid, but they are only a small part of the equation that becomes what I used the word Vibe to explain. So, since all of the above can be learned, YES a robot could do this. Not now though! Not even in the near future, unless this robot was a supercomputer, designed specifically for the task.

Your second question. Would it be easier to divine the mood of a crowd or an individual on a purely observational stance. That's a good question. I don't know enough about pattern recognition to answer it with facts. It would seem to me though that an individual would be easier for a machine. The amount of noise (being motion, audio, ect) that a crowd creates would be a bit oblique. Crowds tend to display the same characteristics across different bulk emotions. Look at a crowd of angry people from afar. You seem arms waving, maybe signs with messages on them, maybe things getting thrown. Now look at a crowd of people celebrating. You see arms waving, maybe signs with messages on them, maybe things getting thrown. :)

Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]

Re: The impossibility of automated DJing (4.50 / 2) (#26)
by Aquarius on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 07:39:32 AM EST

I think the key point you bring up above, and one which I hadn't really thought about (and was possibly not even really aware of), is that DJing involves two completely distinct skills; crowd analysis and creativity. The crowd analysis can give your creativity a direction in which to travel, so that you can know that what you're creating is to some extent compatible with what your audience is looking for, and it's this that I was referring to when I spoke of metrics by which the crowd's attitudes could be measured. However, as you say, the DJ is there to lead the crowd's mood, and that requires genuine creativity. Genuine creativity (as opposed to a sufficiently complex process that mimics it) is something which computers, at this stage, pretty much can't do. Personally, I don't think that they will ever be able to do it, because I think that a computer can only run through a set process, and a set process is by definition set and therefore not creative. However, the contra-argument is that humans conceivably aren't creative either, just that the set process that they run through is very, very complex.

It is possible that this question could never be answered, I think? I don't believe that you could ever categorically tell that something was a genuinely new piece of innovation rather than produced by extensive search on all possible alternatives. This is a rather depressing thought, if it's true...

"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
[ Parent ]
Re: The impossibility of automated DJing (3.50 / 6) (#13)
by abe1x on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 01:04:21 PM EST

Unfortunately it sounds like the answer is that you'd be a bad DJ, sorry bro. No good DJ's aren't telepathic, but they're damn close. Problem is that we don't know enough about how people read "vibes". However we know damn well that people do it. You know instantly when someone is looking threateningly at you, but its very hard to quanitify that data. Same goes with looking at you lovingly, or when your mom new you just did something bad. A lot of it is in the facial expression, posture, tension in muscles, etc... People make the calculations all the time, but scientists have a hell of a time breaking down the rules they are using in these calculations.

Reading the "vibe" of a crowd of thousands of people? Definetely a learnable skill, I have know idea if any work has gone into quantifying it, sounds pretty hard. There are some obvious signs, hands in the air, people screaming from joy, everyone smiling, etc. However a great DJ reads a lot more, are people getting tired? are they ready from an experimental new track or do they want the trided and true, are they open to a style change mid set?, the list goes on.

Standing behind a great DJ looking out over the crowd is an impressive experience, the DJ is almost a puppet master, the crowd is his (or hers) to control, drop an uplifting track and the mood lightens in the room, people throw their hands out expressively and smile, drop a dark hard track and the mood becomes more aggressive, people focus more inward, body motion is less open and more defensive. There is a constant back and forth between the DJ and the crowd, where is the crowd willing to go? where does the dj want to take them? Its almost akin to surfing, the dj must ride the crowd, play drum n bass for a crowd expecting trance and the dj gets tossed, he losses the crowd and has no power other then to get people to leave. Drop what the crowd expects though then the DJ can execute all sorts of control over the crowds behaviour, as long as he still plays what they are willing to dance to.

Could go on but I need to work...

[ Parent ]

Re: The impossibility of automated DJing (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by fluffy grue on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 02:50:09 PM EST

You don't know anyone with Asperger's syndrome, then. It's a form of mild autism which makes it difficult/impossible for someone to tell the "vibe" of someone else - they don't grok body language and attitude. I believe that it's something which is quite quantifiable, at least by a person's instinct - and it's those instincts which those with Asperger's seem to lack. (No, I don't have Asperger's, thanks for asking. I know several people who do, however.)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

It's the little blue connector pieces (2.50 / 8) (#30)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 10:47:10 PM EST

Those little blue connector pieces that are so hard to find have embedded AI circutry. This is a very closly kept secret of the Lego corperation so don't tell anyone ok?

[ Parent ]
Cookie fascists (1.55 / 9) (#10)
by Perpetual Newbie on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 11:17:36 AM EST

To access this site your browser must be accepting cookies.

To hell with them then. Would've voted it +1 section otherwise. I hate it when websites take action to exclude a set of users.

...but you're forgetting it's cool! (2.16 / 12) (#14)
by ramses0 on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 01:32:40 PM EST

Ok, all of the meta-physical discussion about telepathic DJ's aside, this thing is COOOL!

I want one! I would never use it at a "real" party, but if I had some geek friends over, heck yeah I'd drag this thing out.

It looks like a jukebox made out of legos. Think about it... a JUKE BOX. The fact that it does motion analysis to change CD's just makes it even cooler.

I feel like the inverse of one of those harley davidson people who say "If I have to explain, you just wouldn't understand" ;^)=

[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

WTF!? (2.14 / 14) (#15)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 01:55:36 PM EST

What the fuck is this doing on front page? At best, its barely MLP. No writeup at all, just a link, no real possibility for discussion... ick. This is the real slashdot affect, a bunch of stupid one line me too newbies flooding what used to be a decent discussion form. Ugh.

Re: WTF!? (2.66 / 6) (#16)
by AgentGray on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 02:45:00 PM EST


I'm new here - not by the way of /. (gasp!)

Word of mouth and Real Life discussions with friends led me here.

I found K5 in the middle of it's downtime and I immediately signed up when it came back up.

However, right now to me it seems like another <a href=&quot;http://www.slashdot.org/&quot;>/.

It's not what I was looking for...

[ Parent ]
Re: WTF!? (1.75 / 4) (#17)
by AgentGray on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 02:47:53 PM EST

So new that I need to learn how to preview my previews.


[ Parent ]
Preview (Was: Re: WTF!? (1.75 / 4) (#20)
by GandalfGreyhame on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:08:26 PM EST

Heh, don't worry about it. Everybody makes mistakes, and because of a bug in my browser I'm not able to use the preview button without jumping through some hoops. You just gotta hope that people are mature enough to not blast a _comment_ for a few formatting mistakes. (Stories are different though).


[ Parent ]

Re: WTF!? (2.50 / 2) (#18)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 02:48:19 PM EST

Thanks for the support. I would post non-anonymously, but K5 is something that I've really liked, and I want to become trusted and stay like that. If I posted under my real account, I would surely be demojinated into perdition. A bit more 'real' discussions occur in #kuro5hin, come join us sometime.

-The Wizard

[ Parent ]

not a K5 topic (3.06 / 15) (#19)
by xah on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 02:59:03 PM EST

For all the newbies: K5 topics are supposed to have some thought, and they are supposed to provoke discussion. Search the archives for the many good topics there.

Re: not a K5 topic (4.00 / 4) (#25)
by NKJensen on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 03:09:39 AM EST

I'm sorry. And I'm a newbie here. I posted it as MLP and Tech which I found to be valid due to the cool factor of the thing. The Legos of my childhood time did not have anything like this.

As for the discussion provoking effect, take a look at the number of (non-flame :-) replies.

For all the old timers: Feel free to tell "That's not the way things used to be" to the newbies. That's what happened to me at Slashdot and Usenet. Just remember that you have to live with newbies forever, right? Every one of them will do something wrong if you believe in the present state of things as the perfect state.

Please folks, do not pester the discussion forums with (more than one per incident) comments to newbies. I did include a valid e-mail address just for that purpose.

Best regards,
P.S: Yes, English is my second language.
From Denmark. I like it, I live there. France is another great place.
[ Parent ]

QBert's Wavetwisters (2.25 / 4) (#24)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 12:47:31 AM EST

The animated movie that DJ Q*Bert is working on to accompany his incredible skratch CD "Wavetwisters" features an entire race of Lego BBoys and turntablists. I saw a preview screening, and I'm not sure if the Legos are going to fly with copyrights and whatnot, but it's interesting that the Lego DJ already exists :)

This is really off-topic too, I guess, but the post wasn't that brilliant to begin with.

Re: QBert's Wavetwisters (1.00 / 1) (#29)
by Hk_Silver on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 03:15:02 AM EST

The Qbert video is already out. I dont remember the name of it however. he has a music video too you might be able to find it in #Musicvideo on EFNet. Oh yeah incase you havent heard Invisbl Skratch Piklz broke up last month.
That government is best which governs least.
[ Parent ]
Moderation of memes (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by dgfitch on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 04:29:44 PM EST

I think it's interesting that this flared up even this much. Those who moderate are [most likely] still settling in to this new system.

Ye Old Schoolers should certainly yell when us idiot new kids are off on a tangent you don't want to go down.

LEGO DJ robot using vision system | 30 comments (24 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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