Contact Mics

Since I need someplace to catalog potentially useful technologies (essentially stick them in a digital filing cabinet for use later) and I don’t have the time to code demos as often as I’d like, I’ve decided to start talking about devices, patterns, creations and all manner of tech as well as code demos and my own creations.

First on my list would be the contact mic.

Contact Microphone Photo
This tiny microphone acts basically like a tiny seismometer to detect vibrations from touching a surface associated with the mic.

It operates by turning tiny vibrations into electrical signals. Think of an electrical stethoscope, it operates by amplifying signals from something called a “piezoelectric transducer” essentially turning any surface into an instrument. One could for instance, take a hard surface like a table or window, attach a contact mic and listen for amplified signals caused from touching, scratching, impacting or generally interacting with the surface. However, the possibilities don’t stop with creating amplified sounds from surfaces. You could also listen for vibration frequencies and determine which sound patterns they are closest to. Then emit those sounds instead, creating a more interesting interactive device. Example below:

However, the power of this technology doesn’t stop here. If we can detect frequencies then we could potentially detect gestures. If we can detect gestures, we could effectively make a multi-touch system from say a tree. We could then browse the internet or make an interactive art installation, from our tree…

This technology would be exploratory in much the same way the kinect is right now. It would allow users to create different results from interactive with a surface in slightly different ways.

As always, let me know if you’re doing anything cool with this…

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