Touch Acoustics, e-textile interface

Touch Acoustics is a digitally embroidered textile interface, a prototype that responds to touch and movement to produce an array of gently changing soundscapes. It explores multi-sensory modes of interaction that produce aural feedback within a tactile, movement-based interface to explore affective responses to the work. It was created to have potentially therapeutic, regenerative effects for people with sensory processing needs.

Digital embroidery production

This project was supported by WEAR Sustain, part of the EU Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme to investigate the sustainable development of wearable technologies, smart and electronic textiles. Design decisions promote accessible, inclusive experiences using the sense of touch to feel connected to our embodied self and the bodily, physical sensations this affords. It invites touch engagement to promote playful, exploratory experiences that move beyond hands and fingertips to encourage whole body contact.

Touch sensing pressure mat

The touch-sensing surface was produced using materials and techniques that support scalability in the development of large-scale surfaces. The touch sensor uses Velostat, a carbon impregnated plastic that changes electrical resistance with pressure.

This is split into a grid of 16×16 sensors using vertical and horizontal copper strips; a sensor being the approximate area of Velostat where two copper strips overlap. Each sensor is sequentially powered via a resistor, giving a voltage proportional to the applied pressure. The voltage is read by an analog to digital converter and exported for processing. An Arduino Nano is connected to the sensing surface via a multiplexer, which gathers the touch data and sends it as a matrix of values via USB using the serial protocol. The touch data is aggregated and simplified using a Python script to supply the position, pressure, velocity and duration of touch events.

Sound testing the prototype model