The French design school École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle, known colloquially as ENSCI Les Ateliers, seeks to train industrial designers with a special bent on pushing the materials envelope. "In this industry undergoing profound change, the dominant technologies are not only those of wood, metal and thermoformed plastic," they write, "but the implementation of new materials (sometimes traditional materials revisited), composites, functional textiles, et cetera" (not to mention liquid nitrogen). This type of thinking has yielded a bizarre and interesting use of materials in Marianne Cauvard and Raphael Pluvinage's "Noisy Jelly."
By combining an Arduino microprocessor, a capacitive surface, software, and gelatin, students Cauvard and Pluvinage have created a series of musical instruments that looks like something Cornelius would've brought on stage in the '90s:
(I'm 99% sure they didn't clear that Devo soundtrack, but if anyone would let that slide to support the project, it's Devo. Or Cornelius.)
So how does it work?
...The game board is a capacitive sensor, and the variations of the shape and their salt concentration, the distance and the strength of the finger contact are detected and transform into an audio signal.
This object aims to demonstrate that electronic[s] can have a new aesthetic, and be envisaged as a malleable material, which has to be manipulated and experimented.
For our French and Canadian readers, there's a (French-language-only) six-minute explanatory video detailing ENSCI Les Ateliers' mission here.