The fabric keyboard lets musicians actively interact with the keys to produce a variety of sounds

MIT Media Lab’s Responsive Environments team released a new instrument unlike any on the market. The FabricKeyboard breaks the traditional mold of an instrument needing a definite shape and instead invites musicians to create music by stretching, pulling, twisting and pressing its keys.

The FabricKeyboard was made with multi-layer textile sensors sewn into a pattern that resembles keys on a piano or keyboard. A sensitive fabric on top of the sensors responds to a variety of movements. A musician playing the device could start out by treating it as a traditional keyboard, then shift into pulling the keys, twisting them or even waving a hand across them. The fabric is made from a conductive material, which allows the keys to detect the proximity of a hovering hand and different touches applied to the keys.

The Responsive Environments researchers plan to include additional keys in new builds of the FabricKeyboard, adding haptic feedback, and collaborate with musicians on the sounds the device can create.

FabricKeyboard


Lead Image: Irmandy Wicaksono | CC

MIT Media Lab’s Responsive Environments team released a new instrument unlike any on the market. The FabricKeyboard breaks the traditional mold of an instrument needing a definite shape and instead invites musicians to create music by stretching, pulling, twisting and pressing its keys.

The FabricKeyboard was made with multi-layer textile sensors sewn into a pattern that resembles keys on a piano or keyboard. A sensitive fabric on top of the sensors responds to a variety of movements. A musician playing the device could start out by treating it as a traditional keyboard, then shift into pulling the keys, twisting them or even waving a hand across them. The fabric is made from a conductive material, which allows the keys to detect the proximity of a hovering hand and different touches applied to the keys.