Hydraulophone: world's first musical instrument that makes sound from water

• Proven market success in waterparks, splash pads, beach areas, civic centres, museums, and attractions all around the world!

See http://splashtones.com

• Also useful for rehabilitation, spa facilties, cancer treatment, and in retirement homes (helps with arthritis, etc.).

• Appeals to (and brings together) people of all ages and backgrounds through the universal media of water and music!

• Installed as the main centerpiece at Ontario Science Centre, an important landmark architecture site:

Closeup shot of Ontario Science Centre hydraulophone, showing how the instrument is played:


Here is a video of an early prototype:

  1. Invention title: Hydraulophone.
    This is a new word coined by S. Mann, following correct Greek etymology. Many musical instrument names are of Greek origin, e.g. "xylophone" ("ξυλόφωνο") comes from "xylo" ("ξυλό") which means "wood", and "phone" ("φωνο") which means "sound".
    "Hydraulophone" ("υδραυλόφωνο") means "sound from pressurized liquid" (i.e. hydraulics and sound).
  2. Summary explanation -- how it works:
    Other instruments (strings, percussion, wind) make sound from vibrations in solid matter:
    • Stringed instruments make sound from long slender ("1-dimensional") solid matter;
    • Percussion instrumnts make sound from flat membranes (e.g. "2-dimensional" skins), or bulk solids ("3-dimensional");
    • Wind instruments make sound from matter in its gas state.
    Thus we have 3 categories that make sound from (1) Solid matter; (2) Solid matter; and (3) Gas.

    Something is missing from this "Solid, Solid, Gas" ontology! So S. Mann invented not just one, but a whole new family of many musical instruments that make sound from matter in its liquid state, e.g. water, and named this category of instruments "hydraulophones".

    Now, for the first time in human history, water has a "voice". Listen to the above videos to hear what it sounds like.

  3. Licensed sellers and distributors of hydraulophones:
    There is already a well-established market for hydraulophones. There are three licensees of S. Mann's hydraulophone inventions: Presently C. Aimone has moved on to become the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) at InteraXon and no longer has time to devote to hydraulophone work.

    There is a very large market for the product, as WhiteWater West wishes to install hydraulophones in most of the waterparks and splash pads and aquatic play areas around the world. See http://www.whitewaterwest.com/aquatune.html
    Above is a picture of one we installed in Legoland California. We have similar installations at many other locations such as African Lion Safari, Chicago Children's Museum, the Experimentarium in Copenhagen, and the CNIB to help with rehabilitation of blind and deafblind children using hydraulic touch, as pictured below:

    With S. Mann's duties as a professor, he is not able to keep up with the high demand for the product. As a result, there is a great business opportunity here, to create a manufacturing process and bring this product to market, beyond the small number of hand-made units made at S. Mann's home.

  4. Links to publications associated with the invention:
    Watershapes (non-technical magazine) article
    Nessie the Hydraulophone: A Water-Driven Musical Object for Children,
    Technical papers:
    Water jets as pixels: Water fountains as both sensors and displays
    Hyperacoustic instruments: Computer-controlled instruments that are not electrophones (this paper also introduces another invention, the pagophone)
    User-interfaces based on the water-hammer effect: water-hammer piano as an interactive percussion surface
  5. Patent applications filed or issued: A number of patents are pending, or issued, such as: US8017858, US7,551,161, CA2499784, CA2517501 issued, and numerous others pending.

    Due to the high market demand for the product, a large number of infringing products began being installed throughout the world. Patent infringement has been quickly and successfully defended against: S. Mann. ats. Waterplay Solutions Corp., Statement of Claim issued in a United States court. Infringer complied by ceasing the sale of infringing products before the matter went to trial in court.

    Another musical instrument invention is the andantephone.

Return to a list of some of Steve Mann inventions