Maggie Orth, J.R. Smith, E.R. Post, J.A. Strickon, E.B. Cooper: Musical Jacket

  • ©1997, Maggie Orth, J.R. Smith, E.R. Post, J. A. Strickon, and E.B. Cooper



    Musical Jacket


Creation Year:



    Electronic textiles


    30" x 30" x 6"


Artist Statement:

    The Musical Jacket is the first “wearable” hyper-instrument developed at the MIT Media Lab under the direction of composer Tod Machover. As an interactive instrument, it allows players with very little musical experience to play not only different individual notes, but also to manipulate and control entire rhythmic tunes. As a computational object, it demonstrates how familiar objects can be transformed through microprocessor technology and new electronic materials. It also demonstrates how the function of such objects, both socially and practically, can be transformed through such technology.

    The jacket incorporates an original, embroidered fabric keypad, a sewn conducting fabric bus, a battery pack, a pair of commercial speakers and an original miniature MIDI synthesizer pin. The entirely new keypad is embroidered from a resistive thread and uses a capacitive sensing technique to recognize touch. When the fabric keypad is touched, it communicates through the fabric bus to the MIDI synthesizer, which generates notes. The synthesizer sends audio to the speakers over the fabric bus. The embroidered keypad and fabric bus allow elimination of most of the wires, connectors, and plastic insets that would make the jacket stiff, heavy and uncomfortable.