Corey Menscher and I worked together on ThinkBig for the Whole Body Interface exercise in Thinking Physically. Corey had the basic idea of making soft switches which would be foot activated. Initially he was going to make three which you’d have to skip between.
We had a discussion about other implementations of the idea, including a hopscotch-type arrangement but ended up riffing off the large keyboard depicted at FAO Schwartz in the movie Big. To this end we made 8 switches which would be mapped to notes on a musical scale. After more discussion we decided to allow the switches to be arbitrarily positioned, including on walls, and the actions would trigger sound samples rather than notes.
Building the soft switches was easy enough – two layers of conductive fabric with a layer of dense foam between them. We wanted to put them on flexible surfaces, but for the prototype affixed each to a small wooden block.
The class seemed to enjoy using them, especially when they were on the wall rather than the floor. The scale of the interface encouraged multiple simultaneous users to play, and the distance between each switch introduced a natural limit to how quickly you could move from one switch to the next. As with the Brauswitch the output was simple sound samples, but it would be interesting to experiment with other actions.
Video of the class trying it out below. Enjoy.
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