Building optical flex sensors

[Joel] dug up this hack that he pulled off over ten years ago. It’s inspired by the Nintendo PowerGlove, and uses flex sensors to react to movements of your fingers. The interesting thing is, he built these optical flex sensors himself.

He likes to say that this is a ghetto fiber-optic setup. The inlaid diagram above gives you an idea of how the sensors work. An IR LED and infrared diode are positioned at either end of a piece of clear aquarium tubing. When the tube is flexed, the amount of light that makes it to the diode is diminished, a change that can be measured by a microcontroller. [Joel] found that he could increase the resolution of the sensor by adding something to the center of the tube, blocking the light when not straight. In this case he used pieces of scrap wire. The outside of the sensor was also wrapped in shrink tubing to keep ambient light from interfering with measurements.

He uses a trimpot to tune the sensors but we wonder how hard it would be to add a calibration algorithm to the firmware?

Electric mountain board with glove control

Last summer, we saw [Andres Guzman]‘s electric mountain board tearing around the University of Illinois campus. He’s back again, only this time the board isn’t controlled with a PlayStation controller. [Andres] built a wireless glove to control his mountain board.

An Arduino and power supply is mounted to the glove. A 2.4GHz transceiver serves as the comm link between the glove and board. The speed control is handled by this flex sensor from Sparkfun. With the flex sensor held between the middle and ring fingers, all [Andres] needs to do to apply power is slightly bend his fingers.

There’s also a number of safety features built into the board. To enable power to the boards motor, there’s a dead man switch on the glove underneath the thumb. If [Andres] were to take a nasty spill, he would release the switch and the board would come to a stop. [Andres] also made sure the board would shut down if the wireless link was interrupted. The build seems pretty safe, even if he is tearing around his campus in the video below.

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Emulating a marching band with wearable instruments

[Scott] is a design and technology master’s student who just came up with The Imaginary Marching Band – virtual band instruments you can wear on your hand.

Taking inspiration from Minority Report and the NES Power Glove, the system is able to emulate 6 instruments at this point – A trumpet, trombone, tuba, snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals. The glove itself reads data from a variety of sensors and passes that onto an Arduino Uno which sends serial data back to a computer. This data is then parsed by a Serial – MIDI converter, and can then be played back through a sampler, synthesizer or piped into your sequencer of choice. Happily, [Scott] will be designing custom PCBs for his gloves to cut down on space and weight, and he’ll also be making his project open-source eventually.

[Scott] has a kickstarter page for his project, and so far he’s been on track towards getting this project funded. Check out a demo after the break.

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SudoGlove gets a big software upgrade

[Jeremy Blum] recently finished writing a couple of software packages for his SudoGlove system that turns it into a music controller with a lot of features. We’ve seen the hardware in a previous post and as a goal for this iteration he decided not to alter the hardware or the firmware controlling it whatsoever–making this a PC-side software only hack. It’s nice to see improvement on the original ideas as we feel most of the glove-based projects we’ve covered end up getting thrown in the junk box after the developer’s interest wanes.

After the break you can see and hear a demonstration of the complete system. The front end of application shown was written using Processing and includes a slew of user configurations for each sensor on the glove itself. Under the hood [Jeremy] built on the PureData framework in order to really unlock the potential for translating physical movement into synthesized sound. There is also a visual feedback application which will help you practice your movements, important if you’re giving live performances where each finger is a different instrument. Everything for this project, both hardware and software, has been released under a CC license so check out [Jeremy's] site if you’re interested in building on part or all of the good work he’s done.

Update: [Jeremy] wrote in with a bit of a correction for our synopsis. The application shown in the video is written entirely in PureData and the visual debugger was written with Processing. The two are standalone packages that don’t depend on each other. He also sent us a link to download the code packages.

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Light sensitive MIDI glove

The latest offering in glove-based noisemakers forsakes commonly used flex sensors in favor or photoresistors. [Bruno Ratnieks] is responsible for this musical glove and his methods will be very easy to recreate. He used an Arduino to interface with it while providing a USB connection to your audio software. The sensors themselves couldn’t be easier to throw together, with each photoresistor creating a voltage divider when combined with a fixed-value resistor. That’s all the hardware you need, and with some creative coding you can making it do much more than the effects heard in the video after the break.

Some will say that [Bruno] simply didn’t used enough duct tape with his project design. Be we liked how he wove the wiring into the mesh of these knit gloves to keep it firmly in place.

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Add explosive power to your hi-five

It’s been a while since there was any advances made in the field if celebratory high-five-ing. [Eli Skipp] just finished her contribution, moving the art forward by adding the sound of explosions to her high-fives. Ignore the audio sync problems in the video after the break to see her Arduino and Wave Shield based offering. It uses a flex sensor to detect a high-five and has a bit of software filtering to avoid misfires when moving your hand or setting it down on a flat surface. It may look a bit ridiculous right now because of the bulk, but we could see a sleeker, cheaper version hitting toy and novelty stores everywhere.

Less useful than a sign-language translating glove, but easier to code and some would say more fun too. [Read more...]

Biopunk watch: time, temperature, gaming

[Matthew Garten] built this watch based on an Arduino. The face is a small color display which allows you to choose to show time in digital, binary, or analog formats. In keeping with the recent trend here on Hackaday he has a glove-based add-on that has temperature sensors in the fingers; for Firefighters or those with nerve damage to their fingers (we’re thinking Darkman). For entertainment in any situation he’s included a trackball and the ability to play breakout or draw in 16-bit color. Details are scarce but apparently he’ll be sharing more soon. For now, watch the video after the break and think of ways to shrink this down into a nice package like the Pong Watch enjoys.

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