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Intro to Xth Sense

marco_donnarummamarco_donnarumma Posts: 72 admin
edited September 2012 in Xth Sense: biophysical music

The Xth Sense is a biophysical musical instrument. With it you can produce music with the sound of your muscles.
It is free and open source, and it was named the “world’s most innovative new musical instrument” by the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology (US, 2012). Its name is spelled ecsth sense (not tenth sense!). But it’s way easier to call it XS.

Thanks for joining us in this journey through open biotechnologies, performing arts and sciences.
Feel free to introduce yourself to the group, or simply lurk around or ask questions.

Remember before posting about bugs and problems, you might want to check tutorials and troubleshooting at the Xth Sense website:


  • peterpeter Posts: 468 admin

    I can't wait to see what happens next with this project. I guess I ought to build one myself. Parts appear easy to source, but are you planning more kit runs?

  • marco_donnarummamarco_donnarumma Posts: 72 admin

    Yes, you should go for it :)
    I'm quite excited about seeing how other people will use the Xth Sense. There are already some videos online.
    Parts are pretty easy to source indeed, I'm planning more kits, but the requests are always more that what I can offer at the moment. So there's a waiting list.
    Would like to find a better way, but by now we have to take it as is.
    The whole project is growing a lot, and it's been unleashed publicly since few weeks, future is promising...

  • ArvidArvid Posts: 25

    Marco, have you already had dancers use the xth sense in a show? I'll be collaborating on a choreography dealing with 'perception of the human body' in the fall, for which I'm considering using your system. Though I'm really anxious to see how the dancers play around with the sounds... A question on your performance at LEAP; are you using a static patch which only processes the body sounds, or are there parameters which change over time or on certain body movements? Thanks!

  • marco_donnarummamarco_donnarumma Posts: 72 admin

    Hey Arvid, yes I've been directing a residency in Copenhagen with dancers and I'm collaborating with two choreographer at the moment. I also know of other ppl who's working on dance pieces using the XS. There is the limitation given by the audio cable (which I'm trying to solve with a custom wireless transmitter), but as for the rest it works just great! Dancers have a much greater perception of their own body movements and contractions, and this makes them much more sensitive to the XS.
    As for my performance, the pieces are composed of different sections (what I call a "scene") and the XS load them at some point in time according to the muscular state of my body (which the instrument recognize through some AI). The timeline is included in the stable version of the XS software, the AI part is still experimental and need some work before getting public.

    Let me definitely know if you use the XS in your project!

  • Hi marco. Got my 2 kits working tonight perfectly!! Am recording a Gojoryu 7th Dan Sensei tomorrow night while he performs a series of karat wearing the sensors. Part of my Masters dissertation so Ive hacked the software a bit.
    I'll let you know how it goes but just made some amazing sounds myself while testing!!
    Thanks for all your help

  • Hey Brett! That sounds great! Definitely interested in listening what you come up with it, and feel free to send over links to your work. I will now create more sections here, so ppl can post their projects.
    Good luck with the recording!

  • is there any one place you can recommend to buy the parts from?
    or do you have to buy them from separate retailers.

  • I usually get the parts from Farnell and Mouser in the UK.
    Overseas Digikey is pretty good, and has about everything.

  • 51joe51joe Posts: 5

    hi Marco, i'm following your Xth-Sense_GETSTARTED.pdf
    & when i write one Pd tells me one
    ... couldn't create

    what i'm i doing wrong?

  • 51joe51joe Posts: 5

    one step fwd ;)

    have redone instructions & this time it worked & i've connected object in the Workspace. But afraid i'm now getting "error: throw~ no matching catch". IS it to do with - can't load library in 'xth-sense-lib' Then couple lines down mentions [symbol2list] part of zexy-2.2.3 & a number of other components of zexy-2.2.3.

    However I cannot find a lib called zexy-2.2.3.

  • 51joe51joe Posts: 5

    OK getting there ;)
    i've downloaded zexy-2.2.3 library from Pd site & i now have sound!

    thought at 1st the sensor was all working, but just found it makes the same sound with no battery, so i'll have to investigate further. a step in the right direction.

  • hey Joe, how did it go?
    did you solved the issue?

    You should see a nice soundwave that matches your muscle contractions. If you see a sinewave, that's some noise in your circuit.

  • and all the libs indicated in the tutorial are necessary to run the software. They only need to be placed in the Library folder (without changing the folder name or anything else) to be loaded properly.

  • hey guys I need some help with the kits. I've built two sensors but they seem to not work (I plugged them into my mixer and I couldn't see any sound). I was wondering if the problem could be that my jack cable is not a trs jack.

  • dtrdtr Posts: 5
    edited December 2012

    What is it then? As long as you got the polarities right you should be fine.

    Some basics:

    - Put the batteries in?

    - Are you running the input through a mic pre-amp/input? I doubt you'll get any signal on a line input.

  • thanks DTR!

    Serenwen, yes please first follow dtr suggestions.

    Then, the frequencies captured by the XS are way too low for you to hear them with no pre-amplification, or a minimum pitch shifting.
    That's what the XS software is for.

    Ideally, you would plug the sensors into the inputs of an external soundcard connected to your computer which is running the XS software.

    If you don't have an external soundcard, you can also use the line-in of your computer. Beforehand, make sure the line-in works, by plugging an iPod or something sound-producing, and checking the line-in levels.

    hope this helps!
    let us know...

  • dtrdtr Posts: 5
    edited December 2012

    Some questions:

    - how long can we expect a coin-cell battery to last?

    - how thick should the silicone cover be? watching your videos i got the feeling you're using a much thinner one than the one included with my kit. wondering if i should cut it so it fits more easily.

  • So I tried again today (with three different batteries): first I've plugged in my iPod (I have a mixer + sound interface and external sound card) and everything seemed ok, then I try with the sensor, but the sounds it the same with or without battery 8-| so I've probably messed something up building the sensor..(it was my first time soldering though). Now I've just tried to plug a contact microphone and it's kinda working like the XS sensor so at the moment I'll try to do something with this (I just need to figure out how to stuck it up safely on my forearm)...I'm not giving up with the XS though! I'll try to make another XS sensor in the next few weeks!

  • @dtr: if you live the battery in place, it usually last about 3/4 months. But it depends on your usage.
    The silicon case you received has the right dimension (I personally make them). That video is old, and in the beginning I used thiner cases, which proved not to be appropriate.

  • @serenwen: ok, I see. In this case, it appears to be an issue with your circuit. Don't worry it can happen! The contact mic does not detect the same signal, but it can be good for you to get started with the software while you get the XS working.

    As for the circuit, don't really need to make a new one, you can unsolder the parts from the board and re-solder them. But do as you feel is the best.
    Also, if you still have problems after the second trial, the best would be to show your circuit to someone who has a lil knowledge so you can learn what you did wrong.
    hope that helps, have fun by now!

  • @nonuniform sorry I completely missed your post!
    Did you manage something with the Raspberry PI?

    There has been a good deal of conversations about it and embedding Pd lately on the Pd mailing list.

    It would be great to think of a way of having the XS running on it, although I think we would need a much more compact version of the software, as as it stands now, it's crunches lots of data.

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