The Complete Guide To MIDI Shoes

Here’s a guide to the amazing variety of work that’s been done with MIDI shoes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NA1P-eI794Q

Sound Shoes (above) – Tina Jespersen from Cat In Orbit has one of her projects involving shoes fitted with pressure sensors and wired into Max PSP.

Walking around in the shoes creates audio effects like walking in gravel, leaning forward on your toes triggers a mouse-click that swaps out the sound effect and then you’re walking in puddles of water. Although these are wired, this could easily be updated with Flash 8, MakingThings/Teleo, mp3 audio recorder and a few force sensors or bend sensors.

Sketch is a live performance with a gesture interface based on tap dance control:

This is an Interactive Performance Event in Computer Graphics, Computer Music and Dance. It is based on a new gesture interface: a pair of tap shoes. This new musical instrument enables a new sensory experience, to strength interaction between images, sounds and rhythm, and to enhance the relationship between dance and music. Here, co-operative or combined behaviours between human and machine create a emergent system.

Details here.

MIDI Tap Dance Shoes

Above, Fabien Ruiz ( France ) dances with a wireless MIDI tap dance shoes system.

Perform-o-shoes offer wireless sensor-embedded kicks to let you perform your Avant-Garde theatre in style:

The shoes themselves are store bought and retrofitted in several different iterations. Stereo quarter-inch jacks adorn the back of the sole. Quarter-inch cable connects the sensors of the shoes to two respective wireless modules which, in-turn, send the sensor values on to the receiver who talks MIDI to a custom Max patch controlling video, sound, analog vertical television hold, and even a midi controlled lighting dimmer. The shoe is built as a modular instrument to be able to work with the custom Max patch. The Max patch itself is further modular to be able to control any number of retrofitted, customized theatrical equipment.

More details here.

This proof-of-concept video showcases Tom Hobson’s DIY BeatSneaks MIDI shoes‘ basic functionality:

“I’ve put together a pair of shoes that, with a little help from an Arduino, will let me trigger MIDI signals. There are FSRs (Force Sensitive Resistors) in the heels and toes of the shoes, which serve as the tap sensors. Basically, an FSR, without any applied pressure, is like a break in a circuit (i.e. has infinite resistance), and as you apply more force, it becomes less and less resistive. So, if we hook up one end of an FSR to a voltage source and the other to the Arduino’s analog input, we can send a signal to the Arduino every time we apply pressure to the FSR. We can then take this signal, convert it into MIDI, and start making sounds. I used the Serial-MIDI Converter from Spikenzie Labs. The serial-MIDI conversion could likely be performed in MAX or otherwise manually, but this does the trick and saved me some time. For the actual sounds I used Garageband, but you could use MAX, Ableton Live, etc.”

Full details are available at Hobson’s site.

MIDI Tap Shoes

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US Patent 5765300 (1998) is for a shoe activated sound synthesizer device:

The present invention is a shoe activated sound synthesizer device that enables movement of a shoe to be translated into audible sounds. The sound synthesizer device consists of a shoe in which there is disposed at least one trigger element capable of producing a trigger signal when the shoe is flexed to a predetermined degree. As the shoe is worn and is brought into contact with the floor, the shoe is flexed. By bringing different parts of the shoe into contact with the floor in a controlled manner, a person can selectively control the production of trigger signals from any trigger element contained within the shoe. A sound synthesizer circuit is provided that is coupled to each trigger element contained within the shoe. The sound synthesizer circuit produces an audible sound, via a speaker, when a trigger signal is received from the shoe.

In a preferred embodiment, multiple trigger elements are contained within the shoe, wherein each of the trigger elements causes the sound synthesizer circuit to produce a different sound or note. As a result, the present invention shoe becomes part of an electronic instrument, wherein the controlled movement of the shoe produces selected rhythms, notes or sounds. The ability of a person to artistically move their feet and thus their shoes is required in order to produce melodious sounds. Optional controls can be provided that enable a person to change the sounds or tones produced by the sound synthesizer circuit. Additionally, controls can be provided to selectively control the sensitivity of the trigger elements to different shoe movements.

In an optional embodiment, the multiple trigger elements embodied within a shoe are coupled to a musical instrument digital interface (MIDI). The MIDI converts the analog signal of the trigger elements into a digital signal that contains information about which of the trigger elements were flexed and how severely those trigger elements were flexed. The digital signal is then forwarded to a remote synthesizer of another instrument, such as an electronic keyboard, that is adapted to receive MIDI information.

If you know of other examples of MIDI shoes, or other related resources, please leave a comment below!

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