Pursuing Limitless Expression: Masatane Muto’s Vision to DJ with ALS
People should never be defined by their disabilities. All people have dreams, hopes, and aspirations which define their character and personality. Regardless of any diagnosis, everyone can dream big. With a tremendous amount of hard-work and dedication, they can achieve their dreams. Masatane Muto was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2013 at the age of 27. Having just started DJing shortly before his diagnosis, Masatane refused to let his illness deter him from pursuing his new passion. Follow Your Vision, a collaboration between Masatane and JINS MEME came to be as the result of his love for DJing, and his unwavering spirit. Read his inspiring story below.
Follow Your Vision: Masatane DJing with ALS
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and then to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their demise. If motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to start and control muscle movement is lost. Unfortunately, DJing requires a great deal of muscle control, however, with the current state of technology, Masatane is able to pursue his new passion and is refusing to let his illness deter him.
As ALS progresses, people can still exercise eye movement. With that knowledge, Masatane wanted to make his eyes the main focus for this project. Masatane teamed up with JINS INC, a company creating advanced eyewear and applications, to use the cutting edge eyeglasses called JINS MEME. With the glasses and an application, Masatane is able to control of various external devices through eye movements, blinking, etc.
“I decided to start this project when the progression of my ALS caused me to lose the ability to DJ with my hands. I loved DJing so much, so I didn’t want to let ALS stop me from pursuing my passion. More importantly, I wanted to be able to do something to help all people achieve expression without limits. So I set out to create the world’s first application that would allow users to DJ and VJ simultaneously using their eyes alone.”
JINS MEME and Masatane’s Mission
The JINS MEME eyewear is able to track Masatane’s eye-movement and he is able to control visuals and music through an application that connects to the eyewear’s sensors. JINS MEME has a three-point electrooculography sensor, an accelerometer, and gyroscope sensors. All of these components are what track Masatane to allow him to control the software. Amazingly, he is able to DJ and VJ simultaneously and last year he performed at ALS MOVE FES 2016. Watch the video below for his appearance at 0:46.
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Masatane wants to make sure that people with ALS, or other debilitating illnesses, can achieve the complete freedom to express themselves. He is adamant about not stopping at the point of simply being able to send basic thoughts or communications. People might think that achieving such basic transmissions would be sufficient, but ALS is an illness that leaves your awareness intact even though it deprives you of the ability to freely move your body, and there are so many thoughts that people with ALS want to convey. This project adopts Masatane’s philosophy which he continues to keep and strive for: To make the future of ALS, people with handicaps, and the entire world brighter by bringing ideas to life.
“I achieved personal expression through music, but I think it would be great to expand the concept further to other methods. Like taking pictures, creating works of art, etc. For that reason, we wanted to make sure that the application at the center of this project was one of open innovation, which would allow us to create a base system which we could provide for free. We hope that technical experts in Japan will help further expand the functionality of the application.”
Nothing Can Hold a DJ Back
We are so glad to share Masatane’s story here on DJ TechTools. DJs come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. We all have a story to tell through our sets. Sometimes, life gets in the way of sharing those stories. However, with perseverance and a vision, DJs can move past whatever obstacles may arise and spin some records. Masatane (and the DJTT Team) hopes that this project will help raise awareness and promote a deeper understanding of ALS. No one has to be limited in the way they live their life. Visit Masatane’s ALS charity, With ALS, for more information and to donate to fund supporting people with ALS.
If you are interested in getting involved with JINS MEME be sure to check out their website. Also, if you want to get involved with creating applications to use JINS MEME hardware with OSC (open sound control) you can visit the GitHub page for JINS MEME Bridge.
Author’s Note: I want to give a huge thank you and shoutout to Masatane Muto for sharing his incredible story. Also to an anonymous DJTT reader for leading us to this story and helping translate this article. It is always awesome to hear stories from members of our awesome community. Thank you!
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