FINSTRUMENTS - The Interactive Music Tool

A Tangible Prototype

ROLE: Arduino Programmer and Product Designer
TIMELINE: 2 Month Group Academic Project
SKILLS: Arduino, Circuits, Processing, Product Design
TOOLS: Arduino, Processing

Finstruments is an interactive educational tool for children between ages of 4 to 8. We wanted to provide a fun introduction to musical instruments and music theory. The goal of Finstruments is to help children develop basic musical motor skills by associating finger positions with the audio output. With three instruments to choose from – vocals, piano and trumpet – Finstruments bring to life the small orchestra of child’s imagination.

Finstruments is a glove that uses flex sensors on 4 fingers, as well as a rotation sensor on the back of the glove for volume control. There are also three pads connected to the Finstrument system to choose the instruments that the user wants to play. Both the pads and the glove lead to a box which contains the Arduino and breadboards with the core wiring. The contents of this box is then connected to the computer via USB port.

My contribution to the project was doing the arduino code and to help assemble the glove. I had to find out how to use all three of our sensors, which was easy since I followed tutorials online for the force, flex and rotation sensors alike. I helped assemble the glove with Sina by piecing the glove together the arduino and binding it to the glove and soldering the wires together as well. I also helped with finding and purchasing the materials we had to used, such as the fabrics and several gloves to use to make Finstruments. Since we wanted to take in account for the glove to fit a child’s hand and also be comfortable for them to use I had to go find an appropriate glove. We eventually chose a gardening glove, since it offered a comforting wrap and stretch over a hand. Next was assembling the sensors onto the glove where they would not obstruct the use and comfort for the user. We decided looking at precedents to base our design off of, and by analyzing them we realized that by putting the rotation and flex sensors on the back of the hand, it allowed for a better experience as the readings would be more accurate from how the way the conductive ink on the flex sensors would stretch. Reflecting back on the work, the hardest part we had struggled with was that we had was that some of our sensors had inconsistent readings due to the voltage that was lost with all the wires we had, however we eventually did manage to get it to work.