Ferromagnetic Input Devices

We used ferromagnetic sensing to create Ferrosynth, a reconfigurable interface device designed to offer new possibilities to musicians for creating synthesised output. The system worked by placing ferrous objects on the surface of a sensing device. As the user manipulated the objects, a series of magnetic coils inside the device generated output based on changes sensed in the magnetic flux on its surface. The array of objects that could be used as input devices includes ball bearings, iron filings, a malleable ferro-fluid-filled bladder (as in the image shown), or sliders and buttons with ferrous components. Since the ways in which a user could manipulate each of these objects differed greatly, the object used had a profound effect on the output from the device. For example, a large ball bearing produced strong localised readings, while a ferro-fluid bladder produced smaller, dispersed readings. This meant that the device was highly customisable depending on the user’s requirements. This research was funded by Microsoft Research Cambridge.

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