Second Skin Synth


As a musician, sometimes you want to walk away from the computer and the use of buttons and knobs. Some dream of an instrument or interface that is more experimental and lively. There are many possibilities, the sky is the limit when it comes to designing gestural and alternative controllers. Gloves have become a popular option, and for good reason, they are expressive and the hand has many points of articulation. Plus, when you are really feeling a groove, it’s hard not to move around, shimmy and shake. The body is very expressive and, using a microcontroller and some sensors, it can be turned into a musical instrument to learn and explore.

The challenges I presented myself was to not use flex sensors and to create pressure sensitive points on the back of the hand using resistive paint and conductive fabric. This lead to a knuckle mechanism designed by JON-A-TRON and Aleator777 using trimmer potentiometers, and a homemade sensor using polyurethane, Bare Conductive paint and conductive fabric. You can use flex sensors if you like (coupled with a voltage divider circuit), they both give out voltage resistance readings.

This wireless glove triggers and manipulates sound using the Intel Edison’s WiFi capabilities and the JavaScript libraries, Cylon.js (for interfacing with hardware) and Timbre.js. (sound generation). I made mine out of leather, but this can be made out of other materials, such as neoprene or boiled wool. Choose something that can be cut, but doesn’t fray. The Edison Arduino breakout board is used, which is large, but has ADC, which is needed for analog sensor input. Until Intel comes out with something smaller, you may want to try Sparkfun’s breakouts or another microcontroller that is smaller and can support WiFi.

Make your own!


It would be remiss of me not to mention at least a few great glove controllers and wearable instruments:

Laetitia SonamiLady’s Glove from 1991

Nintendo’s Power Glove glove (will be open source!)

Onyx Ashanti (check out his website for more wearable experiments!)