Arturo Vidich
Eric Mika
Yin Ho

Beat Feet

Beat Feet is a pair of shoes and hat that allow a solo performer to orchestrate audio loops in real time using dynamic, unexpected sounds.

Introduction to Physical Computing

What if dancers and musicians could make sounds like breaking glass, guitar twangs, or drum & bass beats just by stomping around the stage? Beat Feet allows a solo performer to do just that. Beat Feet consists of a pair of shoes that play sounds when the performer takes a step, goes on tippy toes, pounds a heal, jumps, or any other sole-to-floor interaction. With the push of a button (on the brim of a stylish bowler hat) the performer can record audio samples in real time, loop them, and play along. This system allows a solo performer to build polyphonic structures through movement, closing the spatial and functional distance between musician and dancer.

The outer sole of each shoe is lined with four strategically placed force sensors that detect which part of the shoe sole collides with the floor, and how fast. The shoes communicate with a laptop wirelessly via Xbee-2's strapped to the performer's legs. The serial data is parsed in Processing and mapped either to predetermined sound files, or to a MIDI sound library, depending on the performer's preference. While using the MIDI library, the performer can change instruments by executing a specific movement. The performer can choose how sensitive the shoes are by setting thresholds, and change output volume by adjusting velocity. The hat, also communicating wirelessly using an Xbee-2, controls audio loops with a start-record/stop-record function which employs the stylistic gesture of touching the brim. Another button on the brim erases the loop.

The target audience is anyone who might find themselves attending a performance.