New this very day, Smule releases their latest audio based iPhone application, Sonic Vox. With Sonic Vox, simply slide your finger across your iPhone and slip through a range of voices from Darth Vader to Gollum.
Perhaps it’s easiest to think of Sonic Vox as Voice Candy for your iPhone. So the most obvious question that came to mind for me was, “Can I talk to other people over my iPhone as Vader or Gollum?” Based on the current constraints of the iPhone SDK, this capability unfortunately is not allowed. But as I get into the finer points of Sonic Vox below, you’ll see that it is possible to talk in these modulated voices via iChat or Skype — using your iPhone!
The visual feedback to Sonic Vox is minimal, and reminds me of the pulsing strobe from the hood of KITT (if I must explain myself, that’s the car from Knight Rider). But the point isn’t the visual, as with all Smule apps to date (and in the future…), it’s all about the audio. When you speak into your phone with Sonic Vox running, the playback can be heard from the iPhone’s earpiece speaker. (Admittedly, this was only interesting to me for the initial testing of the application. However, if you’re my boys who are Star Wars junkies, the iPhone battery will die long before they get tired of listening to their own Darth Vader voices.) If you’re interested in greater fidelity, however — or to share with a friend — you can plug in your head phones and listen. Upping the ante a bit more, connect your iPhone to an external amplifier via the headphone jack to a line-in on say, your MacBook.
Has that light bulb gone off yet? Smule actually turns the iPhone — with the help of Sonic Vox – into a functional external microphone for your computer! There are two great benefits to this capability. On the one hand, you can play your wicked cool voices for others to hear and enjoy more easily. On the other hand, now you’re able to use your iPhone and Sonic Vox as a line-in source for the likes of Skype, or iChat. Go ahead and totally wig out your parents/children/siblings/what-have-you when you begin audio chatting as Gollum!
So really, what Sonic Vox does is cool, but somewhat limited in application. How it accomplishes this functionality, however, is what really makes Smule’s newest application a killer piece of tech. Truth be told, Sonic Vox is creating real time voice effects. To be clear on this point — it is not recording your input, altering it, and playing it back to you. Rather, as you are speaking into your iPhone’s mic, Sonic Vox is using Digital Signal Processing (DSP) in real time to alter the resulting, simultaneous output. (If you really want to geek out, look into Smule Co Founder, Dr. Ge Wang’s Chuck audio programming language project.)
Maybe it takes an audio geek (or perhaps, just a geek in general) to get psyched about the potential Smule brings to the table with Sonic Vox. But what these guys — and girl — are doing is truly awesome. Look for another Developer Profile in the coming week, all about Smule. After chatting with Co-Founder Jeff Smith yesterday, I think I’m nearly as excited about what they’re doing as they are, and I can’t wait to share more with all of you. For now it’s safe to say you haven’t seen anything yet.
If you’d like to get the first hand experience using Sonic Vox (and what is likely the future of real time audio processing on the iPhone), it’s priced at $.99 in the App Store. What have you got to lose with awesome Smule’s money back guarantee?