VOX: Generative Synthesizer Helmet — 2017

VOX.png

VOX is a two-player instrument that uses human voice as an input for onboard granular synthesis. The Singer (player 1) vocalizes into the microphone inside of the helmet, serving as a source for the Controller (player 2) to modulate. With one or two hands on the helmet, the Controller plays the four pushbuttons, three soft pots, two IR proximity sensors, and one 3-axis accelerometer to manipulate the granular synthesis powered by a custom SuperCollider patch.

Neither the Singer nor the Controller alone has complete control over the entire system, but they both have the tools to react to its output and improvise toward a common goal. The project was heavily influenced by one of my favorite writings, Dancing With Systems (Donella Meadows).

I created a 3D model to map out all of the technical components before starting the build. Colors changed and some components ended up going inside of the helmet inside of outside, but the final layout remained fairly true to the initial design.

After creating the 3D model, I designed the protoboard layout for the electrical schematic. Ultimately, I moved from an Arduino Mega to a Teensy microcontroller (green) and the 3-axis accelerometer (blue) got attached to the board directly. It’s important to me to create as many schematics and diagrams as possible before initializing on a build. There are definitely still unknowns that pop up once production begins, but mapping out a system from various perspectives helps to anticipate as many of those unknowns as possible.

Protoboard layout with onboard components diagrammed and external components marked by callouts

Protoboard layout with onboard components diagrammed and external components marked by callouts

This project could not have been completed without my teammates: Rachel Tandon, Ian MacDougald, and Margaret Norton.