What is Conversus Vitra?

Conversus Vitra (Latin)
Rotating, Conversing Glasses.


Conversus Vitra is an automatic wine-glass playing robot. It consists of 4 wine glasses, 4 motors to spin the glasses, 4 friction sticks to touch the glasses, a midi keyboard to play the notes, and small water pumps to control the water level in the glasses.

What makes it special?

Conversus Vitra starts to listen to each glass using a piezo microphone when the player touches the midi keys. Based on the received note, it changes the pitch of the glasses by pumping or sucking water from the individual glasses, effectively changing the tuning of the instrument body. This type of indirect player-instrument interaction is the first of its kind for hydrocrystalophones.

Normally, the player would tune multiple glasses/bowls, and play them by rubbing their fingers, or attaching the glasses/bowls to a spinner, and touches the glasses as they spin.

However both classes of instruments/interactions have three things in common:
- Player must tune the glasses or the bowls first.
- Player must touch the glasses or the bowls.
- Glasses or Bowls cannot be tuned dynamically during the performance.

With Conversus Vitra, glasses constantly spin and when the player touches the midi keyboard, notes are translated into frequencies, frequencies to water levels by listening to the glasses and pumped into/sucked out of the glasses.

How does it work?

Each glass is mounted on a custom built laser-cut platform that has a silent stepper motor built in. For each glass there is a piezo microphone that listens to the pitch and to match the pitch of the glass to the target note. Each glass has it's own two DC pumps to add/suck water precisely. Also for each glass there is a friction-stick that touches the glass.

Not enough?

Here's a presentation by the maker John Ozbay at the Studio For Creative Inquiry in Carnegie Mellon University.

Still curious?

Here are some videos