Testing sensor system on a dancer – temporary solution

Testing sensor system on a dancer – temporary solution
photo: Haakon Berg Mathisen


I will see if I can use a Phidgets-kit on a dancer, it is NOT wireless.


I am waiting for the Eowave-system to arrive from France and I want some progression in the project.


I will go trough available sensors and think of possible solutions.



These are the available sensors and my thoughts on using them:

Circular Touch:

photo: phidgets.com

Too Big.

IR reflective (5mm):

photo: phidgets.com

Measures too short distance (max 5mm).

IR reflective (10cm):

photo: phidgets.com

Measures too short distance (max 10cm).

Force sensor:

photo: phidgets.com

This is both small and sensitive enough to work with.

Magnetic sensor:

photo: phidgets.com

Not favorable since the dancer would have to wear a magnet and the distance to where it starts to sense is too short.

Rotation sensor:

photo: phidgets.com

I don’t want the dancer to turn knobs, I want her to dance. I could have made something with some strings and springs connected to the knob, but that seems extremely stupid to me.

Touch sensor:

photo: phidgets.com

Initially a relevant sensor, but as I tried to put it on a glove, it sensed being on the glove as being touched. I even tried with rubber gloves, still it told me it was getting touched just by sitting on the glove. So I can’t use it.

Motion sensor:

photo: phidgets.com

Initially I thought I would be able to use this, but apparently it just senses when there is movement, not on what axis there is movement and how much tilt. That is probably why it is called a motion sensor. Then again, I could use it, but it would not be very clear what it is doing since the numbers I get are quite messy, I would have to try to filter them somehow.


photo: phidgets.com

Once again, I don’t want the dancer to turn knobs or slides, I want her to dance.


photo: phidgets.com

Basically a good idea, but too big for this project.

Temprature sensor:

photo: phidgets.com

Cool, but it would be hard to control the temperature instantly based on immediate reactions to what happens in the music.


Wearing the system:

That leaves me with only the force sensor:

foto: phidgets.com

I imagined it would be best if the dancer could press it with her fingers, so I put two of them on each their glove:

photo: Haakon Berg Mathisen

The dancer would have to wear the interface as well, so I put it on an old belt:

photo: Haakon Berg Mathisen

And of course I had to try it on:

photo: Haakon Berg Mathisen


It felt quite comfortable wearing it, let us just hope that the dancer feels the same way.

Since this system is not wireless, there is a major challenge to actually dance with it, but since I am no dancer, I didn’t bother even trying to figure out how that would work.

As mentioned, this is just a temporary solution until I get the wireless system from Eowave, then I will put together a more permanent solution.

The most important aspect I want to research with this solution is how I will map the incoming data to the processing of the audio. This setup facilitates the concept of starting and stopping a loop as mentioned in the idea sketch:

The two flexion sensors are to decide when to start and stop the looping and also the initial length of the loop. When the left hand closes (if the dancer is close to the drums) is sets the starting point for the loop/starts recording into the looper, when the right hand is closed the en point is set and the loop starts playing. When both hands are opened again the loop stops.

I am thinking that after starting a loop, if more pressure is put on the sensor, that decides the speed and pitch of the loop.

I will also look for a gyroscope to go with this solution so I can use the rotation of the dancers hand(s) to control parameters like we did with the Eowave-system.

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