Enter the Portal

By Mike / On / In Technology

Since giving Appsterdam to the people, I’ve been hard at work bringing up a new team of New Lemurs to explore some new ideas around educational games. We’re currently on a team-building deathmarch to November 1, when our first title will be submitted to App Review.

You may recently have caught wind of my other project, the Trans-Dimensional Portal, which aims to do for audio what the Apple did for computers. As it’s all cloaked in a cloud of mystery and science, I thought today would be auspicious to tell you a little bit about it.

There are three machines that, the first time I used them, changed my life forever: the Mac, the iPhone, and the Trans-Dimensional Portal. When I experienced the prototype in San Francisco last June, I knew I had to bring the team here to Amsterdam to introduce the world to the power of ambisonics.

Whereas current audio technology uses independent channels that combine at a “sweet spot” to simulate surrounding you with sound, ambisonic technology uses cooperative channels to produce a complete, three-dimensional sound field. Simply put, it is the holodeck of sound.

It is the missing piece in the convergence of apps and music, giving artists the control necessary to finally express music they way they experience it. To experience the TDP is to hear your music for the first time. Music is a drug, and the Trans-Dimensional Portal is a hypodermic needle for sound.

Because even if you are listening to the existing music on your iPod, ambisonic audio is a fundamentally different experience. Faced with omnidirectional information, the brain places the signal inside itself. If you will pardon the expression, it is like the music is coming from God.

Spending five minutes in the TDP has forever changed my relationship to music, and that is the least interesting thing about it. The brain has an audio API we know is there, but barely understand. The hope is that it will provide an alternative to the crash-prone, low-level, chemical API.

It sounds incredible, but we can actually measure this using bio- and neuro-telemetry. The TDP is not a fancy stereo. It is a platform on which to build the future of music, immersive apps, and therapeutics. Bose should be scared, and so should Pfizer.

Ambisonic technology has existed for decades, but driving speakers like pixels is expensive, making ambisonic arrays the mainframe of audio systems—think hundred-speaker monstrosities housed at major universities—inaccessible the way computers were in the mid-70’s when ambisonics, Apple, and I were born.

Using the phenomenon of cymatics and the science of spherical harmonics, the inventors of the TDP have managed to generate an ambisonic field using a bare minimum of speakers, bringing this incredible technology tantalizingly close to being something regular people can afford.

For too long advancements in audio have been locked up in proprietary technology, ludicrous pseudoscience, and exorbitant pricing. We intend a Promethean disruption with a system that simply annihilates anything on the market, using open technology, actual science, and prices that reflect how important ambisonics are to our future.

It’s been a year. For those of us who loved him, there is a debt of gratitude that can only be repaid by building a better future, by being insanely great. I can’t wait to show you how we’re earning that legacy.