One of the creepiest musical instruments ever is undoubtedly the theremin, a device originating from the early 20s that emits eerie sounds with a just a wave of the hand. If you’ve seen the original movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, you know what I mean—freakishly creepy. Playing the theremin can be off-putting for some, since it’s a relatively pricy gizmo, but a new geek gadget called the EaTheremin aims to make all of us professional, dinnertime theremists.
The theremin relies on frequency, not on touch like most of today’s instruments. All you have to do is wave your hands between two metal antennas to make some unsettling, hair-raising scores—never touching either of them.
Those antennas are actually radio-frequency oscillators, one being variable to adjust vertical pitch and one fixed to control volume. The closer your hand is to the variable antenna the higher the capacitance of the oscillator circuit and the higher the pitch.
If you move your hand farther away, the pitch will be lower, eventually stopping altogether. The fixed oscillator is a little more complicated, but it deals with electrical current and high frequency voltage.
Designed by a group from Ochanomizu University, the EaTheremin is an electronic musical instrument disguised as simple silverware, where your mouth helps complete an electrical circuit to make some high-frequency tunes.
“The sound produced varies, depending on the resistance. When you bite the food on the end of the fork, electricity passes through your body, forming an equivalent circuit. The resistance value depends on the food, and the sound produced depends on the resistance.
Electricity passes through your whole body, so no matter where you touch this to your body, you will get a sound. But because the inside of your mouth is the wettest part, you get a really good sound there. Our aim is that, because this creates a good rhythm, people will want to eat more, or try eating foods they didn’t really like before. We think it would be great if children have fun with this.”
So, the principles aren’t exactly the same as a theremin, but the sound is just as creepy, though “annoying” might be a better word, more akin to the irritating sound of a dentist’s drill. Right now, only EaTheremin forks exist, but keep an eye out for future spoons and cups. With a whole ensemble of EaTheremins, you could create one horrific dinnertime soundtrack…
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