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This is a controller that explores how to interact with realtime graphics in Processing. With this little box, the aim is to find more tactile, playful and straightforward ways of interaction with graphics during live sessions.

produced by: Annie Tådne

As working with live performances of different kind, I wanted to explore different ways of interacting with my work during live sessions. With the curiosity to experiment outside the standardized norms of industrial midi-controllers, I wanted to create a more experimental and tactile interface that could generate more creativity. Inspired by the theremin, an electronic musical instrument that controls frequency and volume without physical contact, you can interact with the computer out of “thin air”.

With a controller you want to have the freedom to step away from the computer and keyboard and fully concentrate on the generative output it gives. With the use of a photoresistor that reads the amount of incoming light, I found a more interesting way of controlling the graphics I created within the Processing/Java language. The light sensor makes it possible to steer the graphics exclusively with the movement of your hand.

As the process went on I also discovered the value of using this controller during content creation, as it allows you to elaborate more freely during the creation and coding procedure. You have the possibility get physical and it reveals the direct changes in real time, which will give you more inspiration and interesting artistic results.

Technical Specification

Arduino Uno
2 x Carbon Potentiometer CA9
Tactile push button switch
2 x 100kΩ resistors
USB cable

Design Specification

I wanted the design to be as small-scale as possible, whereas the microcontroller had to set the boundaries for size. This is for future developments that could use the same design but with other sensors. This gives the opportunity to stack them next to each other.

I used MakerCase for the drawing of the design. Firstly, I did a prototype in cardboard for making sure everything fitted properly. Secondly, I laser cut the design in acrylic. I also replaced the original shafts of the potentiometers, to acrylic ones that matched the rest of the design of the box.

Future developments

For being as stable and fast as possible the serial communication between Arduino and Processing needs a bit of improvement for use during live sessions. I am going to investigate further and elaborate with factors such as baud rate, serial write/serial print and clearance of the serial monitor, for finding the most effective way of communicate between the hardware and the software code.

I also want to explore other tangible ways to interact with graphics and sound in realtime. This is a start for exploration with interactivity, both for performances and installations. I would like to develop similar controllers, but using other sensors such as accelerometer, pressure sensor or an ultra sonic measure sensor.


Thank you Fritzing for help with prototyping and schematics.
Thank you to the Arduino and Processing forums for help with the code.
Thank you to MakerCase for help with the design.


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