Theremin controlled Mario

In the video above, [conquerearth] is using a theremin to control Super Mario Bros. Moving his hand toward and away from the vertical antenna increases the theremin’s pitch. The computer monitors this in real time and moves Mario left and right. The loop antenna controls the theremin’s volume and acts as the jump button. The controls seem to work well, much better than the sound of one man flailing at a theremin.

[via Gizmodo]


  1. Hmmm… so can we use a theremin as input device, like a 3d mouse or something like that…

  2. geertvdijk says:

    Nice hack, although it would be even nicer if you could control jumping and shooting seperately, by moving the hand up or down instead of up for both. Maybe it wasn’t sensitive enough for that, or it didn’t have enough range?

  3. will d. says:

    do the same thing but with a wiimote and nunchuck in your hands. then you can get some serious spatial input.

  4. Hirudinea says:

    While you’ll never wear the controler out I don’t think the music was spooky enough.

  5. eleftherios: 3D interface already done I just decided to leave out the silly theremin tones :)

    Another alternative Mario interface:

  6. Brandonman says:

    This is very interesting, but I am somewhat dissapointed. Why isn’t there functionality to control B/A buttons seperately, as Kosmas said? Somebody forgot the fact that holding down B makes you run faster!

  7. Well maybe using a theremin organ will result in limited control capabilities, but it can be used as a basis for a Theremin-based input device… the “TheremInput”

  8. cjac says:

    cat /dev/theremin | mario

  9. googfan says:

    F^kin awesome. I Want One!

  10. Lambda_drive says:

    He could probably use a foot pedal for more input.

  11. roshamboe says:

    does anyone know how i could incorperate a foot pedal or rock band bass pedal into controls?, i wanna use it as a gas pedal for my wii.

  12. lucas barton says:

    i love the theremin. it’s so bad!

  13. McSquid says:

    Good job, you also clearly practiced with it before filming.

  14. hevans says:

    Awesome project. Very well done.

  15. stunmonkey says:

    Props for having a Theremin project.

    Major bonus props for having a theremin project involving an actual real theremin. That kind of makes it completely unique.

    Nice project.

  16. G$ says:

    I dunno. The video looks eerily familiar to the demo that plays before you hit ‘start’. Almost identical. It’s like he memorized the opening demo, and moved his hands in sequence.

  17. Phil says:

    Not really ultimately usefull as a controller but it still looks like fun.

    Much Like the U-Force from years ago…

  18. Phil says:

    Not really ultimately useful as a controller but it still looks like fun.

    Much Like the U-Force from years ago…

  19. colecago says:

    He forgot the extra life.

  20. a_sherman says:

    Since the left/right reading is a continuum, I’d like to see a version of this that adds the B button with extreme left/right measurements. This would give a sort of variable movement speed similar to an analog stick. Based on Mario’s speed in this video I would guess that actually the B button is permanently pressed, and then released and held again for the fireball/jump. So what about up for jump, down for fireball?

  21. a_sherman says:


    I don’t think this would be possible.
    I’m not 100% sure on the rock band pedal, but I know the World Tour pedal uses a piezo, which means each “kick” is sends a single impulse signal, like tapping a button would.
    The rock band pedal, if I remember correctly, is a button, so its possible that it could be wired in as a replacement for the “a” button or something on a traditional controller. As far as for the wii goes, I’d suggest you try something simpler first.

  22. Very smooth! I’m hoping Contra is next on the list! That would be something to see!

  23. Awesome post! Appreciate you for this.

  24. Austn says:

    Awesome, that brings Mario to a whole new level :)

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