October 14, 2008 / 9:25 AM / 10 years ago

Dial-a-concert? Japan software turns mobiles musical

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Making music just got easier. A Japanese game maker has teamed up with the nation’s leading cellphone network carrier to enable users to play an orchestra with their fingertips.

Iranian conductor Farhad Fakhredini conducts the Iran National Orchestra at the 22nd Fajr International Music Festival in Vahdat Hall in Tehran January 3, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

Game manufacturer Taito has created the “Chokkan Classic” software for NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode Internet service that lets users to pick their instruments and the melody they want to play.

To activate the sounds, users must either rub or move a finger infront of their phone’s infrared sensor. The sensor can also be used to sync several users’ phones to create the myriad sounds of an orchestra.

A Taito performer, who called himself “Tricky,” directed a full performance of Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” recently at the annual Tokyo Game Show as baffled viewers looked on.

“Sound is triggered once the sensor on the cellphone captures any kind of movement in front of it,” explained Tricky.

“If you stop the movement and let’s say you’re playing a flute, then the sound of a flute will completely stop.

“Whether you’re playing a flute, violin or cello doesn’t really matter because anyone can join and play as long as you’re in sync during the session,” he added.

Playing games and paying for goods electronically using cellphones is common in Japan, the world’s biggest market of 3G mobile users, where phones are swiped at ticket gates or vending machines to pay for train fares or drinks.

Taito says the new software was created to make classical music more accessible for younger cellphone users.

With the interactive software, the company also hopes to survive the competitive mobile gaming market, which had suffered an unexpected slump last year, with many game developers and analysts pointing to weak distribution channels.

The number of cellphones sold in Japan by NTT DoCoMo, which controls half the country’s mobile market of 100 million users, dropped 21 percent in the April-June period from a year earlier.

According to Taito, tech-savvy consumers are no longer impressed by new applications that once drove sales such as music distribution, TV phones and camera phones.

Japan was the world’s fourth-largest market for cellphone sales in 2007, after the United States, China and India.

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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