Music Ball

5 years ago

Record a musical composition by squeezing, tilting, shaking and other playful gestures.



Pressure sensors made from conductive or piezoelectric fabric cover the surface of the ball, acting as pressure sensors. The hardware for transmitting the data to a host computer is located inside. Each instrument (ball) is a node on the network and multiple nodes can publish data to the same software program. The ball is completely wireless and contains a rechargeable battery.


I used the Sense Stage platform to set up the network and pass data wirelessly using OSC (Open Sound Control) messages. Sensor data is sent wirelessly over an Xbee network to a host computer running Max MSP. Each sensor is mapped to a sound loop and the pressure placed on it determines the amplitude. Jason Heath assisted with the software design in Max and calibration feature was added due to the unpredictable nature of conductive fabric.  

Schematic of hardware system


Pressure sensors made from conductive or piezoelectric fabric are hidden underneath the exterior skin of the ball. Each sensor is mapped to an audio loop and this allowed the user to use a squeezing motion to create a musical composition. An accelerometer and mechanical buttons are also hidden inside the ball to allow the player more gestures for musical expression. The basis of the sensor design was inspired by Hannah Perner-Wilson, former doctoral student at the Center for New Music and Audio Technology (CNMAT) and Dr. Adrian Freed, former Research Director.

Parts and materials prior to assembly
Hunter Futo

Published 5 years ago