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Bendable, Musical Shoes for Nike, and How They Were Made

Davide GombaApril 19th, 2010


[Peter Krin], blogging at Create Digital Music, posted an interesting news about the new Nike+ campaign in Japan.

Apparently wishing to tout the bendable qualities of its new footwear, Nike enlisted sound artists to transform its product into a musical instrument. The shoes get plugged in, switched on, and mixed up, battle-style, as they sense when the shoe is flexed or moved in space. And yes, everything you see in the video is real: the shoes really are controlling digital sound live. We even have the Max patch to prove it.

[Peter], who wrote a article on MAKE Magazine Issue 8 about getting MIDI on different objects, interviewed Daito Manabe, a bleeding-edge sound artist and alternative interface guru with a background in turntablism.

I spoke to Daito, and convinced him to share the software that makes the project tick. Daito says he used flex sensors (see examples) and accelerometers to make the shoes interactive. He then processed the control signal and converted it to sound using the modular visual programming environment Max/MSP and Ableton’s Max for Live.

The agency is W+K Tokyo. Hardware programming is by Tomoaki Yanagisawa (4nchor5 La6).  Software and sound programming is by Daito Manabe.

My patch is not interesting at all..
Ed.: I respectfully disagree; see above comment – sometimes performing a simple task is the strength of a tool like Max. -PK

I used max for serial communication between the shoes(arduino) and a macbookpro,
and max for live sound.
The serial part crashed many times,
so I separated serial part and sound part.
I use OSC and midi for communication between max and maxforlive.

For making and triggering sound,
I used simple msp patches and Ableton’s sampler
and I used some effects in Ableton live.
The effects are also controlled by the shoes.

The sound settings are a bit strange.
We didn’t need to use a loop machine
because we used Ableton live, but
everything was decided at the last minute,
so we used the loop machine for sampling and looping (i think it was roland machine)

I hope people think it is not fake :)

here’s an image of their setup

Via [CreateDigitalMusic]