Fluid is a wireless, gestural, and touch sensitive interface designed to be a combination of a hand-sculpture and a musical instrument.

Inspired by the work of my friend and collaborator, Andrew Capeluto, the Fluid gestural interface was designed to be an object that openly invites users to explore it through touch. Everything about its design was focused on handling the object and discovering it’s functionality through movement and feeling. Together with the aid of Andrew’s considerable skills in fabrication and design, we created the model in Solidworks so that it would not only be something that was pleasing to hold, but would also functionally act as the housing for the electronics inside. He was able to design the internal housing so that when 3D printed, the two main pieces of the body fit together without the need of any extra fastening and made it secure enough so that it would not fall open on its own. The front and back of the Fluid feature two extra pieces, printed separately, that were electroplated so that they could be used as touch capacitive sensors. The electronics inside feature an Arduino Fio and a custom printed circuit board (PCB) that I designed to connect an accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, and the touch capacitive circuits that powered the interface to the Arduino. The Fio was an obvious choice for its size, its battery pack, and the fact that it features an onboard wireless XBee transceiver which would allow the Fluid to be entirely wireless.

The combined 9-axis sensor was the core of the gestural capabilities of the Fluid. Using a Kalman Filter, I was able to transform the separate pieces of data to determine the Fluid’s orientation and how it was being handled. It could detect if it was being shaken, twisted, tipped, or flipped. To see it in action, please view the video of a performance I made using the Fluid. This piece, entitled Movement, used a combination of score-following, discrete note control, as well as continuous audio effect control. The score-following was attached to a flicking gestured where as I flicked the Fluid left/right you can hear the bass note change and when I flick it forwards or backwards, the higher harmony note changes. The continuous audio effect can be heard as a sweeping filter on the sustained notes. Then, as I touch the front sensor, you can hear a melodic arpeggiator that is triggered while my finger is pressed on it. In this mode, the tilt of left to right becomes pitch control based on the angle.  

  Interface Show performance using the Fluid, CalArts

Thanks to Andrew Capeluto for all of his help in designing and inspiring this project and to Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte for performing with me.