A Customizable Sensate Surface for Music Control

Nan-wei Gong, Nan Zhao, Joseph A. Paradiso


This paper describes a novel music control sensate surface, which enables integration between any musical instruments with a versatile, customizable, and essentially cost-effective user interface. This sensate surface is based on conductive inkjet printing technology which allows capacitive sensor electrodes and connections between electronics components to be printed onto a large roll of flexible substrate that is unrestricted in length. The high dynamic range capacitive sensing electrodes can not only infer touch, but near-range, non-contact gestural nuance in a music performance. With this sensate surface, users can “cut” out their desired shapes, “paste” the number of inputs, and customize their controller interface, which can then send signals wirelessly to effects or software synthesizers. We seek to find a solution for integrating the form factor of traditional music controllers seamlessly on top of one’s music instrument and meanwhile adding expressiveness to the music performance by sensing and incorporating movements and gestures to manipulate the musical output. We present an example of implementation on an electric ukulele and provide several design examples to demonstrate the versatile capabilities of this system.

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