Extra cell phones? Start an orchestra!

Computers & Mobile

This ad for Vodafone New Zeland is an impressive technical feat. They loaded up 1000 cell phones with ringtones for single instruments, and then built a system to send text messages to them in the correct order, to get them to perform a portion of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture. Considering the amount of delay that I usually notice when sending messages, I was pretty surprised that they claim to have performed this over their regular cell network. [via gizmodo]

16 thoughts on “Extra cell phones? Start an orchestra!

    1. Matt Mets says:

      Ah, makes sense. I know I can travel pretty quickly when I am on a deserted highway…

  1. Anonymous says:

    To those puzzled by the speed of the messages: Vodafone probably has more low-level access to Vodafone’s network than you or I…

    1. Matt Mets says:

      Quite possibly, and having a communications engineer help with the project never hurts, however they do mention in the ‘making of’ video that this project really stressed the limits of their network.

  2. Groxx says:

    There’s a number of rather noticeable errors, so yeah, I’d say it’s legit. Sounds like they tweaked the sounds a bit, as the large string sounds have a rather large amount of oomph compared to the others, but I’d say that’s allowed.

    I particularly like the ones on vibrate on the snare drums xD Brilliant.

    1. Matt Mets says:

      Yeah, those are my favorite too. Easiest percussion instrument ever!

  3. Simon says:

    Mt Eden road isn’t what I would call a highway. A busy road though (I work on that road and spend all day staring out the window).

    I think having the network engineer there says a lot. They say they ‘tweaked’ it to get it to work. I wonder if they used network test tools. They only show the receiving end and don’t really show what was sending the txts apart from a few shots of people playing with phones.

    With an automated test tool you could generate the txts in the correct sequence and if you’re running it at a time when there is little traffic the test should be fairly repeatable if it is actually running on the normal network. They know what numbers they are calling too so they could use that to affect the routing as well.

    Then of could you don’t know how much editing is done in the ad. It seems a bit contrived the whole ‘musician coming up with the idea’ thing anyway. Unless you’re on a plan the cost of a txt in NZ is 20 cents so that all adds up!

    1. Matt Mets says:

      I don’t really know what they were up to, but if they have an artist in residence program, it might make sense that the artist did come up with the idea. I mean, just having the idea itself isn’t that impressive, but actually pulling it off certainly is. I’m sure they had to use a diagnostic tool to send that many messages from a single point at the same time, or at least something with privileged access to the network. Certainly not a small-budget project, but a neat effect nonetheless.

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