Last weekend I had the great pleasure of collaborating with Rob Kaye to create a system whereby poi spinners can now make music from the motion of their spinning, in realtime.

Rob 3D printed the poi and put together the circuit boards in the weeks leading up to the hack day…

…and was getting some really nice looking data out of it…

…so we were able to start getting it into Pd and making sound out of it pretty quickly:

The intention was to run the music side of things on a Raspberry Pi, but for the purposes of the hack day we decided to keep things simple and run the music from my MacBook, as getting the Pi to play ball with the already finicky Bluetooth set-up would have taken too much time away from actually making the music sound good.

We used Pd as a way of translating the X, Y, Z, and angular velocity data from the poi into a stream of MIDI messages that were sent into an Ableton Live session with a few instruments and a drum-loop. Here’s a video of what we had by the end of the weekend.

This was a great proof of concept, and I’m really looking forward to carrying on with it at some point. Once the tech is a bit more polished and reliable, the musical possibilities of an entire orchestra of poi spinners will really be amazing. Rob and I have got our eye on festivals like Nowhere, Burning Man, and Boom, for good spots to try this out.

Huge thanks to Simon Ensor who came down on both days to help us test this out with some real poi moves!

All code is available on GitHub, and if you would like to be kept in the loop on updates and progress of this project, feel free to sign-up below, or follow @reactify or @MayhemBCN on Twitter.