Publication or Conference Title:Ph.D. Thesis, McGill University
Building novel Digital Music Instruments (DMIs) requires the use of a variety of sensors to transduce human actions to electronic signals that will control sound synthesis variables. Among them, contact (force/pressure) sensors such as the Force
Sensing Resistors (FSR) are the most commonly used in the design of DMIs. Similar commercial sensor designs based on conductive materials also enable to detect position, displacement or flexion. Unfortunately, although commercial sensors can be easily found at electronic resellers, only a few standardised models with predefined sizes, shapes and electric characteristics can be purchased. Moreover, the quality of the sensor appears to depend on their shape and dimension. These limitations have direct implications on the design of novel DMIs, which actually need to be adapted to the existing offer of commercial sensors.
Instead of having to choose between limited solutions of sizes and shapes, we imagined that it would be more interesting for a designer to start from raw materials and to design their own sensors. The primary objective of this research is therefore
to explore ways to design novel contact sensors using materials with specific electrical properties. It involves the study of the structure and composition of existing industrial contact sensors and the research on new materials with convenient electrical properties that can be used for developing custom-made contact sensors. After various investigations with polymers, textiles, adhesives and glues, we finally chose to focus on conductive paper as a generic material for producing sustainable, flexible and customisable contact sensors. This thesis study presents two directions on paper sensors investigations.