Arduino-human synthesizer

(Thanks to [Aaron] for the tip) As a promo for [Calvin Harris], some of the creative minds at Sony Music have put together an Arduino-based sythesizer composed of 15 bikini clad babes. By analyzing which circuits are closed, the Arduino Mega is able to tell a sequencer which sample to play. The only innovation happens to be that the circuits are painted onto the aforementioned girls with a conductive body paint known as Bare.

Developed by students at the Royal College of Art, the paint is not available for purchase, but they are willing to mix a batch up for art installations or performances. Technical stats (such as resistance) have not been released, but for a washable paint it seems to be performing quite well.

How was the whole project set up? The video below reveals all:


  1. The_Evil_Machinist says:


  2. monkeyslayer56 says:


  3. gorgl says:

    they even showed this crappy video at ars electronica. media art for idiots.

  4. Andrew says:

    I would be willing to bet their “conductive” paint is little more than graphite suspended in isopropyl alcohol.

  5. Entropia says:

    The concept is… dull and the actual product is… a piece of shit too.

  6. Barney says:

    I got an arduino, all I need now is 12 pairs of titties…

  7. stunmonkey says:

    Hey, I dislike most of this Arduino stuff as much as the next guy, but you have to give this one credit.

    Someone finally came up with a use of an Arduino I can actually see as somewhat novel;

    They managed to get an Arduino to hack access to dozens of boobies. That in and of itself has some merit – what else have people been able to do with their Arduino that was as worthy?

    Who cares if the art sucked, that likely wasn’t their point.

  8. b.YISK says:

    @Barney: Just find some babies out. Is that so hard? I mean, I thought Arduino is kinda magnet for hot chicks.

  9. Gene says:

    Technically speaking, this is totally lame (the girls are nice though so much more could have been done on that angle.) This isn’t a human synthesizer; it’s a human contact switch. Hooked up to a very non-human regular ol’ synth. Whoopie.

  10. stunmonkey says:

    Now that they have figured out how to use an Arduino to hack access to boobs, I want to see the follow-up article.
    Think they managed to successfully probe the new architecture? Perhaps port any of their code onto one of these exotic new platforms?

  11. dnafrequency says:

    this isn’t even a synthesizer. he’s just using the people as switches to trigger samples.

  12. Andar_b says:

    @b.YISK: I don’t know if Arduino is a magnet for anything (except the haters) but I had to point out…just finding the girls don’t equal titty access! ;)

    I want to see someone demonstrate the BoobNote. Variations in breast choice, location, and grope pressure will alter the audio output. Oh wait…that already happens.

    “See, the harder I pinch here, the higher the pitch!” :p

  13. farthead says:

    what no zigbee? LAME!

  14. bobob says:

    congrats hackaday! just when i think you can’t sink any lower,you impress me yet again!

  15. TJ says:

    If it was combined with it’d literally be a hack…

  16. walt says:

    something about this really wants to be cool… but he completely missed the mark.

  17. nixie says:

    whenever is see “performance art” crap, I can’t help but think of the the “schprocket” routine that mike meyers used to do on snl.

    i have acquired za ardveeno, vich i vill use to make love to za vooman sroo musical notes viss zeez vires… und now vee dance.

  18. Sean says:

    What is the conductive paint even for? A plain old N2222 transistor can be driven into switching mode by a 9v source through at least two people. I’m sure several of us have built this project by accident, and without needing an arduino.

    Now, if they had made a small CPU, or even a few logic gates out of human switches I’d be amused.

  19. tjhooker says:

    Money talks..bullshit walks

  20. stunmonkey says:

    @ tjhooker

    Remember, in the world of art it is a bit different. There bullshit usually >is< what does the talking, and getting money.

  21. napalm says:

    Meh, switches with humans attached.
    I just watched for the bikini clad women covered in paint.

  22. joe says:

    A musician
    His instrument?
    15 scantily clad models

    Calvin Harris
    you are my hero

  23. nope says:

    well done Andar_b. This hack is junk from a hacking standpoint. it has more merit as a social interaction exercise. never ceases to amaze how weird interaction between the sexes can be. why the hell did the girls do that anyway? really caring about the thinly veiled piece of ‘art’? munny? attention? curiouser and curiouser. oh and piss on him for not making it even moar fun with better pad placement and letting the girls make their own music..

  24. Hubert Farnsworth says:

    This is a debasement of science!

  25. cptfalcon says:

    dont hate, if you were a nerdy musician you would find every excuse to incorporate scantily clad dancing women that are almost all the same height

  26. therian says:

    This why I hate Art major, they playing cood during college but end up as security stuff later on

  27. tjhooker says:

    Sarcasm of the day: I’m sure Sony seen the artistic value…

  28. Hiroe says:

    it’s hilarious because they posted this a day after it was put on cracked.

  29. tjhooker says:

    Also I’m not bitter, I’m okay in the world. I just say it as I see it, I have insight on Sony’s marketing strategies.

  30. Logan says:


  31. PidGin128 says:

    So does SONY give you an STD to makes sure the samples played aren’t copied?

    Fucking rootkits! people.

  32. markii says:

    babes and wires :)
    if there were no babes in this post, i wouldn’t have read it.

  33. James says:

    Glad it’s not just me that thought it was just human contact switches! And I’m not even convinced that was entirely real, it’s far too perfectly timed for a bunch of non-musicians controlling triggers with all limbs.

  34. gally says:

    old :)

  35. dan says:

    >I’m not even convinced that was entirely real, it’s far too perfectly timed for a bunch of non-musicians controlling triggers with all limbs.

    the video says they’re quantizing the hits using Ableton Live

  36. Pog says:

    The technology (Max MSP and Ableton Live) is well understood. The “human contact switches” is a novel idea. But the real deal is getting the right choreography so that the music is in time. If this was really played live, then it would be impressive as a piece of choreography. Nice idea. Would it work on stage?

  37. James says:

    @dan – I spotted how they were doing it, but I’m just not convinced that a pair of people forming one switch with 2 limbs each can be sufficiently well timed as to make that production. Of course if anyone can it’d be a group of professional dancers, but it still seems hard to believe! Take, for example, the two girls doing the foot-swapping move with 4 pads and clapping hands at the same time. In the test run shown they were miles out timing-wise and missed at least one beat.

  38. Hitek146 says:

    Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger… :)

  39. grovenstien says:

    People can dance in time to music! People can dance to make music! I prefere the piano choir on Dave Gormans Genius

  40. tantris says:

    art? okay.

    – but no, the human contact switch isn’t new, as sean pointed out. years ago, i taught intro into electrical circuits by using a good continuity tester: students would stand in a circle and hold hands, if someone lets go, the sound stops. you can demonstrate serial, parallel, and even 3-way switches that way.

  41. amk says:

    Wow. “It’s just contact switches”, “There’s nothing new about contact switches”, “I ate contact switches for breakfast when I was in third grade”. Way to miss the boat hack-a-day commenters.

  42. Brian says:

    @Sean: Yeah, that was my thought exactly. It should be pretty easy to do this without the conductive paint. It doesn’t even look like the paint works all that well—looks like it takes pretty solid contact for it to trigger.

    Of course, making it work without the paint would take a little bit of understanding and electrical engineering—the lack of which makes a lot of Arduino hacks like this pretty boring.

  43. Brian says:

    This is actually really stupid. The idea is so unoriginal and easily using barely clad women as just a gimmick. This article deserves to get buried.

  44. gilbert wham says:

    The fact that Calvin Harris is not already on fire is a constant source of disappointment to me.

  45. johnzy says:

    You’re all do nothing haters. Wheres your lame projects. Thats right lamewads!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,322 other followers