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MIT’s Knitted Keyboard Showcases the Energy of Good Textiles

Ever needed to make the tough selection between a chunky knit scarf and a brand new keyboard as a part of your month-to-month finances? Boy, does the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how’s (MIT) world-famous Media Lab have the piece of convergence tradition for you!

Seizing on the commentary that many of the world’s keyboards up till this level have been considerably inflexible, the KnittedKeyboard II seeks to spark a paradigm shift in expectations by means of an interactive, textile-based musical system with the acquainted structure of piano keys. And the unfamiliar nature of, nicely, being a bit of musical knitwear.

“It’s a musical keyboard made out of yarns that’s expressive, smooth, and stretchable,” Irmandy Wicaksono, an engineer and designer who’s presently a Ph.D. candidate within the MIT Media Lab, informed Digital Tendencies. “It’s all textile-based, which makes it transportable, aesthetically distinctive, and really feel good on the fingers. That is fabricated using machine knitting, permitting us to totally customise the appears or colours, the variety of keys and octaves, in addition to [the tactile properties such as] squishiness and stretchiness and electrical properties … by computationally programming the knitting sample and feeding numerous frequent and practical yarns.”

The challenge reportedly began out with the intention of being a wearable, foldable keyboard for the late American jazz musician Lyle Mays to make use of for composing on the street. Ultimately, Wicaksono mentioned, “the challenge grew to become greater than that.”

A musical experiment

A knitted keyboard is, in fact, sort of gimmicky. However that’s no unhealthy factor. It’s the sort of eye-catching experimentation that may yield attention-grabbing outcomes. On this case, it opens up new methods to play discrete notes, results, and modulations. It’s not the primary unusual tech-meets-musical instrument challenge we’ve seen come out of MIT, but it surely’s actually up there with probably the most attention-grabbing.

“The truth that the knitted keyboard is squishy and elastic, whereas additionally intrinsically built-in with cloth sensors which can be conscious of stress and stretch, permits an intimate relationship between the bodily gestures and the sound,” Wicaksono mentioned. “Some feedback I’ve acquired from musicians are that it feels that the material interface is alive, because it has a direct embodiment of the sound and the expressions. It makes the expertise natural.”


Wicaksono’s work goes far past wearable devices. “There are different real-world functions with this e-textile expertise, as we all know textile is ubiquitous,” he mentioned. “I like this concept of reinventing textiles we have already got — like a shawl, a shirt, an upholstery, or a carpet. Apart from bodily interplay, my different work [involves] trying into embedding electronics into shirts for sports activities and medical functions or carpets for exercise recognition.”

And, within the meantime, are there any plans to commercialize this keyboard? “For the reason that KnittedKeyboard was fabricated utilizing machine knitting, a producing course of that has been pervasive within the garment and technical materials trade, the product is actually viable for commercialization,” Wicaksono mentioned. “Machine knitting is an additive manufacturing course of. Subsequently, moreover being customizable, it’s extra sustainable and cost-effective, because it creates little to no waste.”

Coming quickly to a music retailer close to you, then. Possibly.

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