AirTurn Provides Hands-Free Page Turning For VO

airturn_lgThe AirTurn is a Bluetooth equipped foot pedal appliance that works with your iPad, Android, or regular computer monitor to turn pages wirelessly while you’re narrating. VoiceOver Insider editor Gary MacFadden spoke with Hugh Sung, a cofounder of AirTurn, Inc, and the VP of Marketing for the Boulder, Colorado-based business.

VOI: Hugh, what’s the genesis of the AirTurn product

Hugh Sung: Well, I’m a classical concert pianist. I was always struggling with locating my music, carrying it while traveling, and most importantly, the vexing problem of turning pages while doing a performance. If you imagine a performer with both hands on the keys, our options are that we either need to lift a hand and turn the pages ourselves, or you need to have another person sitting next to you to turn the pages.

And particularly if you’re a traveling musician, you never know who you’re going to get to turn the pages…what their skill levels are. Often I’ve had volunteer page turners who didn’t actually know how to read music, and I’d be bobbing my head, or otherwise indicating to them that I need the page turned. Or they might turn two pages at once. So finding a solution for what sounds like a simple, but very vexing problem for musicians, is what led to this product.

I’ve been a “paperless musician” for 11 years. When Microsoft came out with its first tablet PC, which was the first computer that allowed me to see music in the vertical, portrait mode, rather than the landscape, or horizontal mode, I said ‘that’s the computer for me.’ But then I started looking into how I could use the advantage of the computer to not only store my music, but to be able to turn pages hands free.

Jumping forward to today, that’s why I helped to found this company to develop a page turner that could do three things: 1) Be easy to use 2) Be absolutely silent 3) Be wireless So those are the three factors we worked with in developing the AirTurn.

VOI: So this was actually developed for earlier computer monitors, but I see all of your demonstration models in your booth are iPads running various configurations.

HS: Yes. The introduction of the iPad really made tablet reading accessible to everyone; it gave us a universal device for reading.

VOI: And the result is this small set of foot-pedal switches.

HS: This is our BT-105, which is a Bluetooth wireless page turner, to turn pages under a wide variety of applications on the iPad. And we did that initially for musicians, but as we come here to VOICE2012, we’re finding a tremendously enthusiastic response from voice actors who want to be able to read long-form scripts, or TelePrompTer style applications on their iPads or other monitors, and to be able to do that in a silent, professional recording situation.

VOI: At first glance, this looks pretty straightforward, but I see that it’s a modular design, connected by several wires.

HS: The AirTurn is made up of two main parts: the AirTurn itself, which is a small, black box, which contains the ‘brains,’ the Bluetooth chip and controller, as well as an internal rechargeable lithium battery. And that battery allows for up to 100 hours of continuous usage between recharges, which you do by connecting the AirTurn to a computer or other USB charging source. The AirTurn module can then be attached to a variety of foot switches, mouth or tongue or blow switches…any type of normally open momentary switch will work to trigger the AirTurn.

VOI: I see this demo unit is attached in a frame to a small footswitch, which I’m guessing would be the most popular arrangement for a voiceover talent.

HS: We actually designed our own foot pedals, using high-impact plastic. And what’s unique about our pedals is that they’re perfectly silent. Remember that, in coming from the classical performance world, I needed a pedal in performance or recording situations that was perfectly silent. Our pedals actually have no mechanism within them to make noise. Imagine a clamshell arrangement of the plastic, forming it’s own hinge. The contacts are a neodinium magnet and a rhodium switch, both of which are embedded within the plastic of the pedal. So there’s nothing to click; you absolutely cannot hear this pedal functioning. It’s a perfectly silent switch.

VOI: The unit I’m looking at looks like it has two pedals, with the AirTurn module in the center.

HS: That’s right. The right-hand pedal is for forward page turns, and the left-hand pedal is for backwards page turns. And this arrangement will work with either Macs or PCs, anything that has a Bluetooth capability.

Author Update: I’ve been using the AirTurn now for over a year, and I can report that it’s become an indispensable tool in my studio. The Bluetooth connection remains steady, even though my iMac is located outside my booth (read: “closet”). Visit the AirTurn page to learn more about the different configurations and the available software packages.

Gary MacFaddden

About Gary MacFadden

Gary MacFadden is a voiceover professional specializing in audiobooks, eLearning, and narration. He became the editor of the print and online versions of the VoiceOver Insider in 2011, putting his journalism and business management experience to good use. For 25 years he was the spokesperson and Executive Director for the Adventure Cycling Association, America's largest recreational cycling organization with more than 40,000 members. When he's not in the vocal booth, Gary enjoys piloting his classic Cessna Skylark around the northwestern states.

Comments

  1. What a tremendously cool invention! Thanks, Gary!

  2. What a great idea, may have to investigate…
    Nic
    http://www.nicolaredman.com

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