sensor suit

R & D: the Drancing accelerometer music "air instrument"

When
08/1999 - 11/2001
Organisation(s)
Tasks

Continued development of a Java Swing GUI for Drancing, a gestural performance instrument employing 3D accelerometers as motion sensors for real-time synthesis of music and generation of visuals and gestural controls.

Photo of the original Drancing accelerometer suit

Photo of the original Drancing accelerometer suit

The original Drancing prototype used 5 triaxial accelerometers in a "body star" formation in a suit and a cable for data transfer.

Alternative strategies for concealing cables in the Drancing accelerometer suit

Alternative strategies for concealing cables in the Drancing accelerometer suit

For some time I experimented with various costumes and techniques for concealing and embedding cables from the accelerometers to the data transmission hub. In the approach shown here "Tubigrip" elastic bandages are used to hold the cables close to the performer's skin, with gaps at the elbows and knees for flexion/extension.

An accelerometer sensor can just be seen near the wrist of the performer under the bandage. When loose costumes are worn over the top, the sensor is completely hidden, so the audience is completely unaware how the sound is being generated.

Pros:

  • Many different costumes can be worn during one show over the top of the sensor layer.
  • Very robust and secure.

Cons:

  • Quite fiddly to put on compared with simply getting into a pre-wired suit.

Video: Drancing suit 2002: variable frequency + variable amplitude mode

Play video (then use fullscreen !)
Scenes

The (X,Y,Z) channels of five 3D accelerometers vary the amplitudes and the frequencies of 5 x 3 = 15 pure sinusoidal oscillators.

One can hear "beat" frequencies generated by similar frequencies corresponding to different accelerometer channels, such as when the arms are raised to similar levels, which effect can be exploited for musical nuance and for movement therapy to measure symmetry of posture.

The vision: a Drancer with wireless data telemetry of accelerometer signals

The vision: a Drancer with wireless data telemetry of accelerometer signals

A crude 3D conception from about 1997 of a "Drancer" accelerometer music performer with wireless data telemetry. I immediately realised that cable transmission of accelerometer data compromised the very freedom of movement over a large area that accelerometers (as opposed to motion capture position detection) afford.

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