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:


45 thoughts on “Arduino-human Synthesizer

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. @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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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..

  8. 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.

  9. @James
    >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

  10. 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?

  11. @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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. @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.

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