Abbey Road Studios is amongst the most iconic music studios worldwide. Alongside its unparalleled musical heritage is a history of technical innovation, today fostering the best new cutting-edge audio tech.

So, we were delighted to be invited as one of the supporting partners in the first Abbey Road Hackathon, exploring questions facing the creative industries and beyond. Over a hundred makers gathered in the cavernous surrounds of Studio One to spend 24 hours developing ideas at the boundaries of music technology.

Here's the roundup of our favourite hacks that used Chirp SDKs.

La Vaca Cega: A distributed sampler triggered by chirps

This stunning hack uses Chirp to synchronise music playback across the entire audience’s mobile devices, triggering movements via Chirp tones. It's a simple idea but is incredibly effective to hear in person. Hearing music triggered from tiny speakers all around you is a magical experience.

La Vaca Cega

Team La Vaca Cega used the Chirp WebAssembly SDK  generation and playback of Chirp signals. Because the decoding runs directly on the listener's web client, that means it's a scalable approach to creating large-scale synchronised effects in a concert audience.

Hidden Lyrics: A vision of enhanced music creation

Hidden Lyrics presented a vision for enhanced music creation, in which ultrasonic chirps are embedded into musical tracks to convey additional time-synced metadata. There are dozens of useful applications of this – for example, to trigger emotionally-relevant stage effects, or to embed text subtitles in the audio stream.

Our favourite use case, however, is this: to make Alex Glow's robotic owl familiar dance along in sync to the music. Stay tuned for more on this... 🦉🎶

Alex and Archimedes, her robot owl familiar

Sonic Breadcrumbs: A choose-your-own-adventure in physical space

The hack that we most wanted to play-test is Sonic Breadcrumbs, a choose-your-own-adventure rooted in the physical world, which uses chirping beacons and a mobile web client to let you respond to triggers in the surrounding environment.

It's a lovely use of audio to detect spatial locality, which could be just at home in a museum or gallery as an enhanced location-aware audio tour.

Chirping from the BBC micro:bit

And finally, late on Saturday night, we found a moment to produce a mini hack of our own. We succeeded in getting the tiny lo-fi BBC micro:bit chirping, via a speaker generously donated to us (thanks, @helenleigh!).


Huge thanks to all of the talented teams, makers, parters and producers who took part in the hackathon. It was a tremendous event to be a part of, and we'll be reflecting on it for weeks to come.