Making thought-controlled music with a hacked arm prosthesis
For me, this feels like I'm filled with my thoughts [SOUND] I recently came across a video on YouTube by bear told Meyer A musician and DJ who hacked his prosthetic arm to create a new way of turning his muscle signals into musical manipulations.
I'm wearing this prosthetic hand right and it's a pretty neat device and it's controlled very easily with electrodes that sits on the surface of the skin and as you can see, you can rotate the hand and the full 360 And it's kind of okay and easy to work a record player with that to DJ with records and so forth.
But a while ago, I started into music production and I'm using modular synthesizers to do music and devices that look Like this And these devices, you know they have so many knobs and buttons.
It's really difficult to operate them with a hand prosthesis like this.
But as you can see, there is a little jack next to each button.
That way you can plug in a cable to remote control every button and I always thought it's kind of stupid that my arm picks up electricity from my body, which is then transformed into a movement here and then I turn a knob there which is transformed back into electricity.
It's kind of a stupid detour.
So why not take the more direct way
And find a way to plug a cable like this into my arm and send the signals directly into the synthesizer.
Thanks to some 3D printing, soldering, and parts from an older, non-functioning prosthesis, [UNKNOWN] and friends were able to make that dream into a real prototype device called Synlimb.
I can pop this off.
I know it looks weird, like don't be afraid you have to spin it a couple times and then it'll just pop off like this.
And then we've developed this device here, right?
And you can pop it on here like this.
Switch it on.
Right, that's what it looks like.
And now you can plug a cable in here and take the other end of the cable and plug it somewhere like in here, right and then you can transform the signals from the prosthesis into the synthesizer.
So that's how it works.
If you don't think about a melody and it comes out of these cables, that's not how this works.
You can really use these two cables to modify different parameters and it really depends on where you plug them in.
So the way what I normally do is I program a little melody and then I change the parameters of that melody with the signals coming from here.
So you change the pitch for example, or you change the groove Or you change the length, and then you plug it into something else.
And then you can use it to cut the bass and then you can plug it into something else.
And then the same signal that just a second ago would cut the bass now opens and closes the filter.
That's the great thing about these modular synthesizers.
They're so versatile.
You can, basically control any parameter that's musical with a plug like this.
Offset undelivered, they ID unit.
So the pitch will go off so I can now open the filter.
Change the pitch.
So everything we need for [UNKNOWN].
It's difficult to describe how it feels.
How do you move your finger, right?
You just think about it and then it happens.
And so I think the things that I would normally think to move the prosthesis.
It's something that I've learned to do For the past 20 years, it's second nature for me to produce these signals.
So you just think about them and it happens and to to experience that this thing that you do with your head does something completely different than you're normally used to, like normally you're used to like your hand is moving, and then suddenly something musical happens and it's still A mixture of surprise and joy.
I've spent the past 20 years to learn to train my body to produce a specific muscle signal.
So I've kind of learned to use my body as an interface to produce specific signals that technology will understand.
For everybody else, it would be an extremely steep learning curve.
And that's why this kind of interface I think it's not that suitable for the mass market.
We need something that interfaces more dialect directly with the brain without the detour of brain to muscle to signal right.
But that will still need a lot of reasons.
You can find Bertolt's full video on the [UNKNOWN] prototype over on his YouTube channel.
I'm still very, very much overwhelmed by the kind of attention it has generated.
I mean, just the fact that we're talking right now.
Now, it's kinda weird.
So but yeah, have a look at the YouTube channel, check out my SoundCloud.
It'll be great
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