How good is the WorldBeat system?

In a large-scale poll among AEC visitors, WorldBeat was one of the three most popular exhibits, outdone only by two million-dollar virtual reality exhibits.

With its innovative, non-computerlike baton interface, visitors of all ages have been seen, for example, happily jamming away in the Musical Design Patterns component.

WorldBeat also received the 1998 Multimedia Transfer Award - an award given only to the top 9 projects chosen from 160(!) contestants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It has been demonstrated at various occasions and places, including universities, international conferences, and companies like IBM.

It was covered by the press on various occasions, e.g., in an article called "Land of milk and high technology: Be a virtual maestro" in the Interface section of The Times, London, on February 18, 1998. Kanda News Network, Japan, did a Real Video interview (time frame 42:25-48:30) while WorldBeat was on display at the Milia'98 multimedia conference in Cannes, France.

Who did it?

The KnowledgeNet floor was designed and equipped by the Telecooperation Research Group, a group of computer scientists at Linz University, headed by Professor Max Mühlhäuser.

The WorldBeat application was conveiced and designed by Jan O. Borchers, a former member of that group. Many students, especially Günter Obiltschnig, Harald Hattinger, Jutta Lang, Lisa Rembold, and Andreas Lennert, helped with the implementation and graphics, and Guy Garnett, University of Illinois, also contributed to the system.

Where can I learn more about it?

New: You can download a one-page handout in PDF format describing the system in English or German.

The system, especially the baton interface, is described in a paper by Jan O. Borchers called "WorldBeat: Designing a Baton-Based Interface for an Interactive Music Exhibit". It was presented in a talk and demonstration at the ACM CHI'97 International Conference on Computer-Human Interaction which took place in Atlanta, Georgia, March 22-27, 1997. The paper can be found in the conference proceedings, and the conference video contains a system demonstration as well. An online version of the paper is available from the author's publications page, or from the ACM web site <>.

Another paper, by Jan O. Borchers and Max Mühlhäuser, concentrates on the Musical Design Patterns component. It was presented at the IEEE ICMCS'97 International Conference on Multimedia Computing and Systems which took place in Ottawa, Ontario, June 3-6, 1997. An online version is available from the author's publications page.

Additional results have been published in an article called "Musical Design Patterns" in the July-September 1998 issue of IEEE MultiMedia Magazine. For more recent publications, see the author's publications page.

For more information about WorldBeat, article hard copies, or availability questions, contact the author, Jan O. Borchers, via email at

Last modified: Thu Jul 23 17:15:07 CEST 2003