Interfaces

Sensors typically need to be interfaced to the computer in one way or another. It is possible to buy sensor interfaces, and it also possible to build them yourself. This page gives an overview of both.

Tutorials

Commercially available sensor interfaces

Commercially available sensor interfaces intended for musical and artistic purposes generally use either MIDI or Open Sound Control (OSC) to communicate with a computer (see table below).

Popular MIDI devices (e.g. I-CubeX, MIDItron, Eo-body) have the advantage of being able to connect directly to any MIDI-compatible equipment. However, many interfaces need to be connected to a computer, at least temporarily, in order to configure them. Thus, if a MIDI interface is not part of the user's setup, it will need to be be added, boosting both the total price and potential problems of such a setup.

The shortcomings of MIDI in terms of resolution and speed, make OSC based sensor interfaces (e.g. Ethersense, Toaster, gluion) more attractive. Such devices typically allow for higher resolution and sampling rates, and long-distance communication over standard high-speed ethernet connections.

There are even devices that use digital audio for communication (e.g. Teabox), but this requires the computer to be equipped with a digital audio input.

Finally, a number of newer devices use serial ports for communication (via USB or Bluetooth), or straight USB/HID. While they still can easily be used for musical and artistic purposes given that the data can be re-routed to MIDI or OSC communication protocols, serial port and USB/HID communications are often used for physical computing applications.

Table of sensor interfaces

Comparison of a number of popular sensor interfaces for musical and artistic purposes, ordered by their selling price.

Please note that prices and specifications are taken from the manufacturer’s websites or provided by manufacturers without independent verification, and have been generalized for the sake of comparison.

About the input sampling rate: while often the internal clock speed of A/D converters is expressed in MHz, the effective data acquisition rate is more commonly expressed in ksps (i.e. kilo samples per second). A/D conversion often requires a few clock cycles (depending on the wanted resolution), so that an A/D clock of 1 MHz doesn't mean that that interface is able to acquire data every 1/1,000,000 seconds. Though, many manufacturers express a supposedly real acquisition rate in Hz. Somewhat confusing!

Product Manufacturer Price Inputs (A/D) Outputs (A/D) Sampling (Data acquisition) rate Analog inputs resolution Physical Computing (standalone) Connection / Protocol Notes
HID gamepad > €10 4/12 0/0 100 Hz 8 bit USB / HID
HID joystick > €10 4/12 0/6 100 Hz 7-12 bit USB / HID
Arduino Arduino €27 11(shared I/O)/6 11(shared I/O)/3 15 ksps @ 10 bit 10 bit C apps. USB, serial
Arduino Mini Arduino €30 + 18 (for USB adapter) 11(shared I/O)/6 11(shared I/O)/6 15 ksps @ 10 bit 10 bit C apps. USB
Teensy PJRC $18 12 7 10 bit USB, serial
Crumb128 Chip45 €35 100 Hz USB, serial
MIDIsense LadyAda €38 6 - Max 1280Hz (32x oversample) 40Hz output per channel 10 bit MIDI
U-HID Ultimarc $35 ~50/8, 8/8 ~50/0 ? 12 bit USB, HID
Wiring i/o board Wiring €47 40/8 40/6 15 ksps @ 10 bit 10 bit Wiring (Processing IDE) USB, serial
CREATE USB Interface (CUI) Dan Overholt €50 17(shared I/O)/13 17(shared I/O)/2 100 ksps @ 12 bit 12 bit USB, OSC, MIDI, Bluetooth / HID
CUIduino dual-processor Dan Overholt €50 + ? 17(shared I/O)/13 17(shared I/O)/2 ? 12 bit USB, OSC, MIDI, Bluetooth / HID
MAnMIDI Zenprobe €50 11 - 100-1000Hz 7 bit MIDI
microDig I-CubeX €50 8 4 I2C ports 1.5 ksps max (1 ch. @ 7 bit)7/10 bit C++ API MIDI
GAINER The GAINER development team €55 0~8/0~16 0~16/0~8 220 Hz 8 bit USB, serial
Phidgets Interface Kit 8/8/8 Phidgets €70 8/8 8/0 100 Hz 10 bit USB
USB-microDig I-CubeX €75 8 8 + 4 I2C ports 5.7 ksps max (1 ch. @ 7 bit) 7/10 bit C++ API Serial over USB, MIDI via software
Pocket Electronics Doepfer €80 16 - 7 bit MIDI
Arduino BT Arduino €95 11(shared I/O)/6 11(shared I/O)/6 15 ksps @ 10 bit 10 bit C apps. Bluetooth
MidiTron Eroktronix €95 10 analog, 20 digital 20 analog or digital > MIDI rate (~1 ms/value) 7/10 bit MIDI
Make Controller Making Things €95 8 8/4 384 ksps @ 10 bit 10 bit C, RTOS USB, Ethernet (can be used simultaneously) / OSC
StarterPack (with microDig interface) I-CubeX €75 8 4 I2C ports 1.5 ksps max (1 ch. @ 7 bit)7/10 bit C++ API MIDI
STEIM USB Controller STEIM €100 8 analog / 19 digital - ? ? USB still under development!
MultIO mamalala €90-200 88 64 100Hz 8/10/12 bit USB / HID
Teleo Making Things €130 4 - - 10 bit USB
Wi-microDig I-CubeX €190 8 4 I2C ports 5.7 ksps max (1 ch. @ 7 bit) 7/10 bit C++ API Serial over Bluetooth, MIDI via software
Eobody2 eowave €199 8 1000Hz 12 bit USB -MIDI
Digitizer I-CubeX €210 32 8 244 sps max (1 ch. @ 7 bit) 7/12 bit C++ API MIDI
BluePD Bluemelon €225 Embedded Pure Data Ethernet, OSC, wireless
Bluesense Starter Kit Bluemelon €250 12/6 16/0 1000 Hz 10 bit USB, wireless, Ethernet
MidiTron Wireless Eroktronix €315 10 analog, 20 digital max 7 ms wireless xmit + MIDI or USB rate 7/10 bit MIDI & USB
Teabox Electrotap €350 8 4000 Hz 12 bit SPDIF
Eobody eowave €480 16 - 10 bit MIDI
gluion glui €466-797 16-64/2-68 0-66/0 1000 Hz (4000 Hz internal) 12/16 bit Ethernet / OSC
Wise Box IRCAM €950 16 200 Hz 16 bit ??? / OSC
Toaster La Kitchen €1200 16 200 Hz 16 bit Ethernet (UDP) / OSC, MIDI, FUDI La Kitchen is now out of business!
Kroonde La Kitchen €1200 16 200 Hz 10 bit Wireless (UDP via radio) / OSC, MIDI, FUDI La Kitchen is now out of business!
interfaces/introduction.txt · Last modified: 2012/06/13 23:23 by axelmulder
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