Tapping Friend
An interactive exhibit on synchronization and cooperation between humans and a virtual partner

TAPPING FRIEND is an interactive science game for everyone between 6 and 99 years and is aimed to provide a playful experience of synchronization and cooperation between one or two humans and a virtual partner – the maestro. The players tap in time with the maestro on little drums and the system provides immediate feedback on their synchronization success by showing their taps relative to the maestro’s taps and by counting the taps that were on time and the taps that were too early or too late. The aim of the game is to achieve as many on-time taps as possible.

The maestro’s degree of cooperation differs between play modes, and players should experience the different levels of cooperativity while tapping. Players have to develop different strategies to stay on beat with their fellow players and the virtual partner, the maestro.

There are four different play modes that offer different levels of cooperation by the maestro: in the first play mode, the maestro keeps a strict beat and does not react to either of the two players. The players have to adapt to stay on time. In the second play mode, the maestro changes his tempo and gets faster or slower or both. It is difficult to stay on beat while the tempo changes. In the third play mode, the maestro establishes a cooperative tapping behavior: he “listens” to the taps of his fellow players and adapts his tapping tempo (and phase) to stay as closely together as possible. In the fourth play mode, the maestro cues in with four beats and leaves the two players on their own. They can either maintain the tempo as closely as possible or develop their own tempo or rhythm.

This exhibit implements sensorimotor models of temporal coordination that are based on current research on synchronization and communication in music ensembles (a research project funded by the FWF P 24546).

Research staff

  • Werner Goebl