Shoe Music (aka BeatFeet)
Or maybe we should call it BetaFeta, but that would be cheesy. If we’re in a triumphant vegetative state, BeetFeat.
The mid-term assignment for Physical Computing is to create a media controller. In class discussions it was made clear that the desired output should dictate what kind of controller you want to make, and how simple or complex it is. Eric, Yin and I came up with a bunch of ideas, including an empty painting frame that houses a grid of IR sensors such that when you put your hand or a baton in the frame space, images or sounds are created. Another idea was a pet blob that responds to touch or stimulation. These ideas are on hold.
The idea we settled on is a pair of shoes that can play music. The idea came about when we discussed dancers being silent musicians, and what if dancers could play music with their bodies. Tap dancing immediately came to mind as one time-honored way, but hoofers can only make hoofing sounds. We imagined a tap dancer being about to make drum and bass sounds, or glass breaking. The possibilities for sound output are endless, as are the uses– the shoes could be used in a clown show to play odd sounds that perturb the serious or unsuspecting character, or the shoes could be used to control lights in a concert, or an animated object on a screen. We want to make a program that will allow the mover to record samples of the sequence they come with, and then loop those samples to play along.
The way the shoes work is the following: 5 force sensing resistors (FSR’s) are positioned on the shoes as pictured below.
The sensors can be triggered individually or all together depending on how the mover uses his or her feet.
I won’t go into too much of the technical documentation of how the shoes work (the wireless communication using XBees, the code in Processing or Arduino, relevant links and resources, glitches, trouble-shooting, etc), because Eric has already done such a fine job on his superbly titled blog, Frontier Nerds. That link is filtered for shoe music. I went into this project not knowing anything about XBees, or the more advanced aspects of Arduino talking to Processing. Working alongside Eric and following his blog has been a great learning experience.
In any case, the project is due next week!