When most people think of scarves, the first word that comes to mind is "lazy." What do scarves really do? They piggy back on our bodies while we walk around town and do all the work. Good for nothing. Thankfully composer Jeff Bryant has figured out a way to add a long absent dimension to the scarf: musicality.
As part of his graduate work at the California Institute of the Arts, Bryant was tasked with developing a novel MIDI controller. The result of the assignment was his "push_push" technology, created out of a knitted wearable interface.
With the help of a costume designer friend, he knit a scarf using conductive thread weaved into traditional yarn. As the hacked fabric is pulled, prodded, and manipulated, it will send signals via some small Xbee wireless radios to an automated Disklavier piano.
"The conductive thread, used with regular yarn, makes a big, stretchy variable resistor," Bryant explained to Wired. "If it's twisted, pulled or compressed, more of the conductive thread is touching itself and that distortion affects the amount of voltage that we can read."
The signals are then processed through a homespun composing software program that activates an antique Vorsetzer device (aka the tech that runs a player piano).
While these particular scarves' music won't be blowing up the charts at any point in the very near future, it is an innovative utilization of the new world of wearable tech that is empowering DIY tinkerers to create some very cool projects.
Our clothes are going to do some very cool things in the future.