The pressure and touch-sensitive Sensel Morph has integrated its API with the open-source Pure Data visual programming language to allow the community to dream up new ways to harness the control system.
Morph and Pure Data
That all sounds a bit complicated but in Pure Data (and the variant “Purr Data”) you can build synthesizers, effects and sophisticated control systems. We’ve seen it used in Eurorack modules and development platforms like Electrosmith Daisy or 3dPdModular and also synthesizers like the Critter and Guitari Organelle. It’s a popular way of experimenting with and programming sound generation and processing.
What Sensel has done is to open up their API for manipulation from Pure Data meaning that anyone could program it to do whatever they want with the available data it generates. Morph can handle up to 16 touchpoints and up to 20 parameters per contact so you can follow multiple fingers around and pull out data on position, pressure, width, movement and lots of other things I haven’t thought of. And then through the magic of programming you can route that data to control synthesizers, lighting, sound, movement, machines, virtual environments or whatever.
This integration has come about via a partnership with Virginia Tech’s Linux Laptop Orchestra (L2Ork) founded by Dr. Ivica Ico Bukvic and led by Creative Technologies in Music undergraduate Rachel Hachem.
“The Linux Laptop Orchestra is continually exploring new interfaces for our ensemble, and for the research projects within the Digital Interactive Sound & Intermedia Studio. The Sensel Morph’s ability to implement any type of tap, stroke, press or punch into our rich programming environment is going to be a game changer,” says Dr. Bukvic. “This opportunity is exactly what we had in mind when developing the CTM program: student work focused on applied, industry-relevant projects. Rachel’s work will serve as an important contribution to the Pure Data community, and a powerful inspiration for her peers.”
“In L2Ork, I am constantly seeing new ways to integrate music with technology through Purr Data. The Morph’s touch surface gives you an insane amount of data for every touch you make, so the opportunity to contribute to something new was an eye-opening experience. The work was challenging, and required me to apply and learn many different skills.”
What does it look like?
The simplest way to grasp it is to watch this video:
The Morph already has a lot of user customisation built in with the “Innovators Overlay” where you design your own control surface and so this move makes a lot of sense in taking this further. Essentially Sensel has given access to a multitouch interface to the open-source community. Who knows where that will take us.