As a follow-up to our article in Special Children Magazine on resurrecting old accessible music technology, we’ve put together some additional pictures and links. If you find something you don’t recognise then please drop us an email and we’ll do our best to help.
This time we’re looking at some of the sensors and switches that you might find, all of which work with the MIDIcreator and MIDIcreator +.
Introduced in December 2004, this version of the MIDIgesture added some additional controls to the MIDIcreator’s ultrasonic sensor. An ultrasonic beam works like a bat, sending out clicks to detect objects in its path and work out how far away they are. The MIDIcreator can then turn this information into different notes and sounds depending on the distance from the sensor.
MIDIgesture is ideal for larger movements, detecting dancers on a stage or placed alongside a wheelchair pointing upwards to sense hand movements. Two controls on the side allow you to adjust the length of the beam from 1m to 4.5m, and vary the starting point of the notes.
MIDIgesture can be mounted on a microphone stand or stood or laid on a flat surface.
Another popular sensor, the squeeze responds to the pressure applied to an air bulb. Adjustable sensitivity provides for a wide range of abilities. It is good for those with strong grips, or who need to work on opening out their hands from permanently clenched positions.
This responds to a change in the speed of movement in two directions, forward & backwards or left & right.
It provides two proportional outputs.
This sensor detects East and West and varies the output depending on the position between these two points.
It has been used very successfully attached using a wrist or headband to an individual, with the music varying with movements. Sounds can be associated with specific objects in a room, making cause and effect easy to see.
Ideal for dance and movement work.
One of the most popular sensors, the MIDIsensor is designed to detect a very small movement from any part of the body. It can be mounted on and around a wheelchair and be used wherever a person has control over their movement. Play it with the head, finger, arm, leg or even your tongue!
No contact is required and the sensor is proportional, so the closer you get to the box the higher the pitch of the note (for example).
Try using the sensor with a coloured fabric covering to help differentiate sounds or with different textures to help those with limited vision.
This musical whoopee cushion varies the sound depending on the weight applied. Responsiveness depends on the surface on which it is placed. It has a basic plastic cover (which is part of the sensor), although this is best placed in a cushion cover for use.
Shown in an optional cushion cover. Textured one side, clear pocket on reverse.
A single marimba/xylophone style wooden block that connects to a switch socket. Just hit it and play a chord or note.
A cheap and popular switch input for MIDIcreator, the MIDIfloorpad is a robust and flexible sensor. It provides a simple on/off action when stepped on or rolled over.
The floorpad does require a reasonable amount of force and is not recommended for use with hands. Embedding these within soft play elements is popular for work with younger years.
Coloured covers can be made to help identify certain sounds.
Soft play piano keyboard with switches under each white key. Less than a metre long with a soft carry handle and a pocket for the cables on the reverse. Provides eight switched outputs.
An extremely robust switch, where the activating element is separate from the electronics. Making use of an industrial air pressure switch, this is designed to take some abuse. Mounted in a soft play surround, adjustable straps allow it to be attached to a column or even a person.
A wide range of simple on/off switches are available from a number of specialist suppliers, for providing access to computers and multisensory rooms. These switches may be familiar control devices for people you are working with or you may be wanting to create familiarity with a specific switch before it is used for control of something like a wheelchair.
Switch adaptors allow you to use any of these standard switches with MIDIcreator. Available for mono 6.25mm (1/4″) or 3.5mm jack switches, these adaptors add a whole range of input possibilities. Please note that these are not just converting between sizes and do contain electronic components.
As well as taking inputs, the top row of MIDIcreator sockets can function as outputs. These small, bright LED lights can be set to switch on when MIDIcreator transmits a specific MIDI note. They can be used to provide an additional visual cue to the user that their sensor or switch is being activated. The LED’s fade off to provide a more visually stunning effect.
Available in red, yellow, green, blue or white.