Frequently people create sound reactive wearables for music events, or even LED instruments that go rainbow with the right tones. However, this unusual project from Vimeo user Alexandria specifically ties in wearable tech with a trumpet to look at pressure applied to the valves. An Arduino Uno, three flex sensors and a microphone react to the bend of fingers, as well as the sound, causing different colors on the three associated Neopixel rings. Although this project functions, Alexandria discovered some challenges.
While the idea of having a flex sensor to trigger how the LEDs on the LED ring would light up seemed interesting and the most effective, it turns out that it actually makes the interaction much more difficult. The way the data is processed doesn’t fit the flow of the natural movement of the fingers when playing. The readings are too slow and too finicky; the flex sensors move around.
Alexandria makes it clear this is the first iteration and already has some great improvements in mind for the next version. She’ll be using small RFduinos to communicate info using Bluetooth, most likely with pressure or capacitive sensing. To be honest, I already thought this project was a success, and there is something interesting about watching the light color change with the intensity of the note. It’s a great educational device for a STEM teacher in a music room— I can imagine kids jumping to turn out the lights so they can enjoy the light show and witness the difference in pressure on the valves. Could this wearable help music students understand an instrument? What are the challenges of learning a new instrument? It’s definitely interesting to use tech in this type of problem solving and Neopixel rings can easily show a variety of colors, as well as patterns. Remember, you can adjust color, duration and brightness in coding, so they are a great choice for data visualization. Music just makes it even more fun!
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