Archivi tag: tactile

Fingerscan. A tactile music device for your fingertips


This project is a tactile music wearable: 10 vibration motors (the same found in cellphones) are to be attached to fingernails. This device can be used to produce patterns for meditation/body consciousness, tactile music, 1-to-1 performances, music for deaf people, tactile communication systems, augmentation of perception (e.g. feeling the same sensation under a performing pianist’s skin), possible medical applications…

Realized as the last work in the frame of the research project touchmysound, in 2016, this prototype of a wearable tries to translate the musical elements to a tactile level. While sound is totally absent here, the focus is on the spatialization of the tactile sensation.

Two Arduinos control rhythm, duration and intensity of the vibration. The patterns can be programmed and then uploaded to the Arduinos or controlled in real-time via computer.

PH Stefan Klaverdal

This prototype could be upgraded in various ways:

  1. realize a design to properly and easily wear the device (maybe 3D-printed silicone gloves). Int he public presentation of the project, finger sleeves used to count banknotes were used to secure the motors to the fingersnails;
  2. laser-cut a wooden case and include a battery to make it a mobile wearable;
  3. include plugs to attach a set of 10 piezo sensors that, worn by another person, can transmit the vibration data to the vibrating motors (even via networked connection);
  4. include a knob to control the maximum intensity of the vibration;
  5. include a button to select the operational mode: different stand-alone programs, composition mode (attached to a PC via Arduino’s USB port for composing tactile music), direct piezo-to-motor communication;
  6. compose different stand-alone patterns for when the device is used as a wearable;
  7. set up a computer-based system for the composition of pieces;
  8. imagine the same system fit in another design to be worn on other parts of the body. Will the same compositional strategy apply?
Picture from work-in-progress

In the schematics shown hereunder, made with Fritzing, the two Arduinos run separately. In case you wanna sync the two hands, you need to send data from one Arduino to the other (via the TX and RX pins). The software has to be adapted accordingly.


Schermata 2017-07-30 alle 18.32.52.pngThis schematic is basically a development of the project found on Learning About Electronics, and the module which controls a vibration motor (3.3V) is repeated ten times. Since all the motors could be on at the same time, an external power supply is used, which feeds 9V directly to the Vin pin of the two Arduinos, while a switch regulator takes down the input to 3.3V to feed the then motors. For a better understanding of the powering of the Arduino board, see this article.

You may want to redesign this circuit using an Arduino Mega, or even one only Arduino Uno…

I programmed the patterns directly in Arduino Code.

An Arduino sketch was used activate the motors one by one on subsequent fingers, with a random timing:

  const int motorPin1 = 3;
  const int motorPin2 = 5;
  const int motorPin3 = 6;
  const int motorPin4 = 9;
  const int motorPin5 = 10;
  int randTime = 0;

void setup() {
  pinMode(motorPin1, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(motorPin2, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(motorPin3, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(motorPin4, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(motorPin5, OUTPUT);

void loop() {

void steady(int motorPin) {
  randTime = random(250);
  analogWrite(motorPin, 250);
  analogWrite(motorPin, 0);

Another sketch was used to produce ramps (crescendo-diminuendo) on subsequent fingers:

  const int motorPin1 = 3;
  const int motorPin2 = 5;
  const int motorPin3 = 6;
  const int motorPin4 = 9;
  const int motorPin5 = 10;

void setup() {
  pinMode(motorPin1, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(motorPin2, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(motorPin3, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(motorPin4, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(motorPin5, OUTPUT);

void loop() {

void ramp(int motorPin) {
  int randn;
   randn = random(10);
   for (int intensity = 0; intensity < 250; intensity++) {     analogWrite(motorPin, intensity);     delay(randn);   }   randn = random(20);    for (int intensity = 250; intensity > 0; intensity--) {

    analogWrite(motorPin, intensity);

The prototype also resulted in a caterpillar-like self-moving robotic hand:

A modified versions of these sketches was then used by Argentinian composer Mariano Rocca during a sound-art workshop at Distat Terra 2016, Choele Choel (Argentina). The device was attached to the strings of an open vertical piano, with the pedal forced down, to let the strings resonate with the motors.

The project was publicly presented at the Nordic Sound-Art Symposium “Sound Disturbance”, February 10-12, 2017.

Licenza Creative Commons
Fingerscan by Alessandro Perini is distributed under a Creative Commons License – Attribution – Non-commercial – Share Alike 4.0 International.
For further permissions:

A tactile canebrake: transforming a natural element in a sound source

I took a recording of a cane from a canebrake (Arundo Donax) continuously swept by wind. This recording was then filtered in order to turn its noise, from time to time, into a particular frequency. Eight different versions of the soundfile were created. These eight soundfiles were loaded into eight different Micro-SD cards, feeding Vibe-Tribe Troll 2.0 battery-powered vibration speakers. The speakers were attached to eight different dried canes, planted into the soil as to form an artificial sound canebrake.

The installation, called Canneto Sonante (“sounding canebrake”) could be experienced by listening to the polyphony created by the different canes, by putting one’s ear onto the canes (listening to a particular internal background resonance, peculiar to each cane), or touching one or more canes at the same time for a tactile experience.

Made for Imagonirmia Prize Residency in Chiaravalle/Milano (Italy), June 2016.

You can follow the making of this work by reading these three posts:

Sounding Canebrake, I

Sounding Canebrake, II

Sounding canebrake, III

Transforming a wooden floor into a multichannel sound system: “Wooden waves”, video documentation


Finally I prepared the video documentation of “Wooden Waves”, an installation originally conceived for the beautiful windmill of Harplinge, which is now turned into a hub for experimental arts (HarpArtLab), for the BZZZ! international sound art festival (July 2015).

(You may also take a look at the pictures I uploaded to a previous blog post.)

Eight contact speakers are attached to the floor’s wooden planks.

The listener lays down on the floor, transformed in a resonating surface.

Sound is perceived not only through the ears, but mostly through the body of the listener.

By stimulating the body in 8 different areas, a spatialization of the tactile sensation is put into play. This makes it possible to shift the use of space – typical of the electroacoustic composition approach – from the external dimension of the environment to the internal dimension of the body of the listener.

A soundwalk with mics under your shoes to record the tactile sensation of walking


During a residency module (2nd-6th of November, 2015) at Fondazione Pistoletto – Cittadellarte in Biella (IT), called Creating Territorialities (part of Unidee – Territoriality, Identity, Place and Possession; mentors G. Checola and T. Gliardi) I proposed a way to record the tactile sensation perceived by feet while walking.

The idea is to use contact mics attached to the shoe soles in order to record the vibration phenomena happening in the soles themselves. A great deal of low frequencies are present in the recording, which actually represent the most tactile portion of the spectrum.

The following video contains a test-walk recorded in Cittadellarte on November 5th, 2015. You should use good headphones if you want to catch the tiniest sonic details (for example, the metal resonances of the staircase). Gear used: 2x AKG C411, Zoom Handy Recorder, GoPro 3+ (thanks Lorenza Ippolito). Ah, you can watch it in full HD, 50fps.

A device may then be built in order to recreate the tactile sensation: two wooden boards equipped with vibration speakers, on which the “user” can put his/her feet. In the future I may try to realize this device int he near future. For now this project remains a provocative/question-triggering proposal between art, design and geography/geophilosophy.

Tactile map

(Pictures: Vittoria Soddu)


A map of tactile relationship between foot and soil

1. A person walks paths with two contact microphones attached to the bottom of his/her shoes.

2. The resulting recording is a (sonic) representation of the tactile perception of his/her feet while walking.

3. By playing back the sound with contact transducers attached to (e. g. wooden) boards, the recorded tactile sensation is returned to another person who has his/her feet on them.



Scenario 1

You are hiking in Venezuela and you are streaming live the tactile sensation to your father in Biella, who is comfortably sitting on his sofa and enjoying a drink.
The live stream could be public and thousands more people could be actually foot-connected to your experience.

Scenario 2

Thousands of different people have mapped most part of the earth by walking everywhere in different shoes, seasons, weather conditions, speeds… Everything has been inserted into a multi-dimensional map which takes into account variables such as

  • weather (different tactile sensation with snow, rain, …);

  • physical conditions of the walker (weigth, speed, …);

  • steepness of the terrain;

and so on.

This map is a description (an analytical one) of the tactile sensation induced by the ground. Musical implications include the possibilities to see the territories as sound textures (granular/smooth, dry/resonating, pulsating/rhythmically uneven, …).




➥ Augmenting the body of impaired people in order to experience the territory in different ways, or without leaving their homes.

➥ Possible medical use as (part of) a therapy of stimulation of the body, also recalling previous experiences in nature of the patient (T. Gilardi).

Using a wooden floor as an eight-channel tactile sound system

BZZZ – International Sound Art Festival took place for the second time in the old windmill of Harplinge (near Halmstad, Sweden) from the 3rd to the 5th of July 2015.

I participated with a new installation, called “Wooden Waves”, in which eight vibrating devices were transforming the wooden planks of the 4th floor of the windmill in a resonating surface. People was asked to lay down on the floor to experience the vibrating waves and percussive sounds flowing along their body.
For now only some pictures are available, but a video and a more detailed post will follow during next weeks or months.




“Audiotactile chair” at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse – documentation video

Documentation from the first setup at the 47° Darmstadt Ferienkurse (August 2014).

The project consists of a chair with eight vibration speakers attached. The speakers stimulate the tactile perception of the audience in eight distinct parts of their body.

Realized for “Composition beyond music” workshop (Peter Ablinger, tutor)

With support by Kulturbryggan and Musikaliska Akademien

Video footage: Christine Schorkhüber

“Tactile headset”, listen with your head

This is the second work created at the residency at Park in Progress (Mons, Belgium), September 2nd-11th 2014. The other installation was “Subverted spatialization interface”, described in a previous post: check it out here.

“Tactile headset” is an installation that explores tactile perception of sound as vibration.


I built a cluster of four vibrating polystyrene spheres, hanging from the ceiling. Sound was traveling from sphere to sphere and the audience could experience it with the bones and skin of their head, as in a tactile quadraphonic headphone set. This work was a way to reference headphone listening (even binaural listening, since there were four sources), but translated into the tactile domain.


Picture by Zoé Tabourdiot


Picture by Zoé Tabourdiot

A tactile feedback glove for sensing the surroundings: prototype

On the 11th of May I participated to the Wearable Tech Hackathon at STPLN in Malmö (Sweden).

I came up with an idea of producing a prototype using Mighty Dwarfs vibro-speakers on a belt, or any other wearable gear, to feedback our body with vibrations with inputs coming from all the directions.

Since the event was very much business-oriented, much more than I expected, after building up a team we discussed and modified the idea in order to meet the requirements of usablilty, wearability and low budget. Also, we decided to use the incorporated vibro-device found on our Arduino Lilypad which was provided by the organization.


After less than 12 hours we already had our prototype – thanks to our engineer Victor – which featured an ultrasound distance sensor, driving the vibration motor, installed on a leather glove.

Viktor programming  Work in progress

The prototype proved to feel comfortable and stable, with a range of half a meter. The vibration was a pulse which became faster and faster depending on the distance between the ultrasound sensor and a physical object.

Using InviTouchWearing InviTouch

The idea behind this prototype was to develop a system for space awareness to the visually impaired people, in this case a glove which lets you sense the distance of your hands from physical objects. The final device could be a movable and adaptable one which can also fit shoes, belts, caps or other clothing/accessories. If put on your back, the device can help you detect the distance of objects/people behind you (for example in a queue at the supermarket, if you are deaf or are listening to music with your headphones).

Also, many devices can be used at the same time for a tactile-augmented reality system.

Finished prototype Finished prototype

The prototype was called “InviTouch” and an embryonal website was created by Heber Andrade.


  • Alessandro Perini: concept
  • Heber Andrade: design/coordination
  • Sveta Bogojevic: design/communication
  • Victor Boström: assembling/programming

InviTouch logo

Research mission

Tonight I’m starting this blog where I’ll post articles about my research project on tactile devices.
You can have a glimpse of the author at


THE MISSION (in short)

Contact speakers are sound devices which turn any surface into a resonant instrument. My research will focus on the possibilities given by the use of multiple contact speakers, connected with their tactile capabilities: multiple sources of vibration can stimulate our tactile perception in different parts of our body (what I call “spatialization of the tactile sensation“), for example if applied on a chair. Sound can then not only be heard, but also “touched”. Being able to separately control multiple vibration devices means also to identify spatial implications of sound movement, which opens up the path for an artistic use of the sound system.

On the other hand, making objects vibrate may lead to create even visual results…


This research project is funded by Kulturbryggan (Sweden). The activities at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse (August 2014) are also supported by Kungliga Musikaliska Akademien (Sweden).


kulturbryggan_logo sigill