Right now, at this very instant, I’m listening to Moon Chon Chayoh (Zombie Disco Squad Remix) by Munnibrotherz. I am of course tapping my feets to the beats, gritting my teeths as I sits in my seats (or something). For the past three years the MIT Media Labs Design Innovation workshop at PESIT in Bangalore has been inspiring young people to create and innovate. They have different tracks people can participate in teams to create an idea. This year, in the Sensor Environments track, a small group cobbled together wires, an Arduino and a sensor attached to a dirty boot to create Beat Feet, a device that controls the tempo of your drum beats while you keep playing.
Tap, tap, tap… Beat Feet
The idea is simple. Instead of using your hands (or feet) to switch drum loops, you just tap your feet to match the tempo you want. Keep playing, Beat Feet does all the work for you.
It took us a good of 2 days of brainstorming to finalize one idea which could be prototyped in two days. Components used : Force Sensitive Resistor, Arduino, Switch and Resistors. Softwares used: Serial 2 MIDI converter. Ok, so what is S2MIDI? You can read up here. It is a software which can read serial data from Arduino and convert it to MIDI and can play different musical sounds. Really cool library!
Yep, so we wrote a code on Arduino to calculate the no of taps by a musician and depending on the number of taps, we define a bar. The tempo is dependent on the no of taps you do. A few cool things about the project: You need not tap continuously to get beats, you define your tap once and the beats run in loop. We also added a small switch to switch between different sets of beats. One of them was just the base drum, other consisted of crash and drum, to give variation.
They put the device together within a couple days, with the idea that it could be extended to be programmable, controlling the entire background ensemble of beats, just by tapping your foot. Very cool idea and one we’ve seen to some extent, put together with a Boss VE-20 Vocal Processor and switches. The video is mildy unimpressive, but gives you an idea of how it works.