Loopfree takes home the KTH Innovation Music Tech Challenge

Published Oct 18, 2018

On Monday, we finally announced the winner of KTH Innovation Music Tech Challenge. After a tough jury process, the Loopfree team was finally named the winner, and took home the 50 000 SEK in funding.

The team met during Music Tech Fest  in Stockholm, and consists of Tim Palm, a KTH student and DJ under the name DJ Arthro; Tim Yates, a musician who also works for Drake Music , a charity working with technology to remove disabling barriers to music making; and Vahakn Matossian, experienced instrument maker and co-founder of Human Instruments,  an organization which develops professional musical devices for people with access issues.

We asked the team how winning the challenge felt:

- One word: Amazing, said Tim Palm. Getting an opportunity to become fully serious with this project is more than we could wish for. It’s very special to have gotten so far with it in such a short time. We’re really looking forward to working together more and having the chance to build an incredible product!

Loopfree is a wireless button control system for Ableton Live that allows a musician to ‘freely loop’ sounds in live performance without needing to use a mouse, keyboard or touchscreen.

Lilian Jap accepted the check on the team's behalf, since none of them could be in Stockholm for the finale.

The freedom of musical expression

It was developed with Tim Palm, aka DJ Arthro, to give him more freedom and flexibility of musical expression when he performs. Tim Palm is disabled and isn’t able to use his hands, arms and legs to control his instruments in the traditional way. Instead he uses his nose, tongue and lips. This has been very successful for him in general, but there have been significant limitations to how he could control the looping functionality of his software. Loopfree releases him from those constraints, meaning that he can improvise in real time, free from wires, touchscreens and creative barriers.

- I use this mainly in my live set when I get ideas on stage, says Tim Palm. Now I can make a song that was created to be chill, be really intense or vice versa. By quickly adding and/or removing loops I can go in any direction I want. I can even create full tracks improvised without it being repetitive and progressing too slowly. This has been a struggle to me for ages as I instead had to preplan everything which almost nullified the spontaneous aspect of performing.

Exploring the route forward

The team’s initial plan is to develop Loopfree from a prototype into a robust, stable instrument suitable for Tim Palm to use in his live performance setup.

- We’re also convinced that this project will be useful for many musicians and so we’ll explore routes to commercialising it, says Tim Yates. The funding will be primarily used for product development and market research. Without the award it would be difficult to take the project further, especially given that we’re based in different countries. Now we can recreate some of that MTF magic!

Congratulations Loopfree team! We look forward to seeing where you will take your idea in the future with support from us at KTH Innovation.

Do you have an idea that you would like to get help to develop? Are you a student or researcher at KTH? Reach out to us!

Belongs to: KTH Innovation
Last changed: Oct 18, 2018