Soft^Articulations is a project inspired by retrofuturism and the idea of creating a soft exoskeleton that translates muscle articulations into sound. The project proposes the creation of wearable system that using handmade bend sensors on various muscle joints wishes to explore the dipole relation between the actions of relax and tense both physically and sonically. The output of the work will conclude in an interactive sound performance.

Soft Articulations prototype

The wearable prototype was conceptualized and developed by Afroditi Psarra during a ten day residency on May 2014 at IAAC (Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia) and Fab Lab Barcelona, curated by textile department co-ordinator Anastasia Pistofidou, part of the research project EASTN (European Art Science and Technology Network).

The interactive bodysuit's design focuses on modularity and the idea that during the performance, the performer can add or remove the sensors, playing with the sound qualities that each sensor represents. The looseness of the suit on the neck and on the hips is inspired by the work of pioneer contemporary dance choreographer Martha Graham and her piece Lamentation, which features a stretch cylinder garment. The suit becomes tighter close to the sensor joints transforming into a second skin. The cutouts permit a look to the body's interior and the sensors represent the muscle joints.

The bodysuit consists of a white cotton-lycra elastic bodysuit of five different pieces and four neoprene bend sensors that have been custom-made and are wrapped with an elastic vinyl flesh colored fabric. The prototype was created with the valuable help of fashion designer Claudio Marzá Compte.

Wearable prototype photos:

Prototype front full body Prototype close up Prototype front full body bend
Prototype 3/4 body bend Prototype upper body detail Prototype upper body sensors
  Prototype upper body cutouts   

Performer in the photos: Angeliki Hatzi

The sensors design is based on the open hardware Neoprene Bend Sensor by Plusea, customized to the desired form and slightly modified so that both connections - power (vcc) and ground (gnd) are connected to snaps facing to the upper part of the sensor so they can be easily attached and de-attached.

Sensor design

The sensor requieres a pull-up resistor in order to work properly. For this project I am using the LilyPad' s internal pull-up resistor directly declaring it in the Arduino code, using the pinMode(sensorPin, INPUT_PULLUP); command.

For more info on the code visit the GITHUB repository:

Sensor prototyping photos:

First bend sensor prototype based on plusea's design First bend sensor prototype customization Laser cut neoprene and stretch fabric
Building the sensors with Claudio Marzá Compte Testing the sensors with the Arduino software Custom handmade bend sensors

Soft-circuit photos:

Soft circuit close-up Building the soft circuit on the wearable's back detail 1 Building the soft circuit on the wearable's back detail 2
  Building the soft circuit on the wearable's back detail 3  

Hardware used for this project:

LilyPad Arduino 328 Main Board

LilyPad XBee Shield

LilyPad Simple Power Switch

3.7V Li-Po Battery

High Conductivity Silver Plated Nylon Thread 117/17 2ply

Adhesive Conducting Fabric (ACF)

Handmade Neoprene Bend Sensors



Arduino to read the sensor's values

SuperCollider for the sound synthesis (not implemented yet)