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Weather Thingy – Real time climate sound controller

Created by Adrien Kaeser at ECAL (Media and Interaction Design Unit), Weather Thingy is a custom built sounds controller that uses real time climate-related events to control and modify the settings of musical instruments.

The device consists of two main parts, a weather station on a tripod microphone, and a custom built controller connected to the weather station. The station has 3 climate sensors including a rain gauge, a wind vane and an anemometer. The controller is equipped with a brightness sensor and an interface allowing it to assign the various parameters received to audio effects. The controller transforms climatic data into midi data which can be interpreted by instruments.

The interface of the controller has 4 screens each displaying a data received by one of the 4 sensors. The user can at any time constrain the value received or amplify it with two potentiometers on the edges of the screen. This feature is required to be able to use the device in calm or more violent climates. It is also possible to change the MIDI channel at any time to be able to modify the assignment of the effects.

↑ 4 interface screens each displaying a data received by one of the 4 sensors

Adrien’s was particularly interested in being able to use the controller in Live, so that the listeners can feel (in real time) the impact of the climate on the composition. This new synaesthetic dimension of musical creation offers a whole new possibility thanks to its replayability potential, and all while respecting the musician’s decisions/choice. It is also possible to use the device in the studio by pre-recording the climate data of a certain place at a certain time. This allows the musician to capture moments that he has found inspiring to create new melodies.

↑ First prototype of the Weather Thingy

The device is made with Arduino mega, Arduino leonardo, Weather Meters, SparkFun ESP32 Thing Environment Sensor Shield, ESP32, SparkFun MIDI Shield, High Speed Optocoupler 6n138, Encoder rotary knobs, Colored buttons and Arduino TFT touch screen. Software includes Arduino, C++ and MIDI protocol.

Adrien Kaeser | ECAL

Credits: Adrien Kaeser (project) with support from Cyril Diagne, Gaël Hugo, Christophe Guignard (Tutors),  Laura Perrenoud, Tibor Udvari, Pietro Alberti, Marc Dubois (Assistants).

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