XTH Sense: the first biocreative instrument

annamaria monteverdi/ Marzo 16, 2017/ DIGITAL PERFORMANCE, interactive performance

After 5 years of development, creative workshops worldwide and published research, the world’s first biocreative instrument, the XTH Sense, is ready!

Help us raise the funds needed to manufacture the first batch. Without your help we cannot make it on our own. By pre-ordering the XTH Sense now you contribute to bringing this innovative open hardware and open source technology to the world. Make a pledge for one of our rewards on the right side of the screen. THANK YOU!!

Check the XTH Sense 3D drawing application in action, Kenji Williams uses it for his new show. This is just one of the things you can do with your XTH Sense!

Forget your average tracker or MIDI controller. Enter a world of new creative possibilities.

The applications of the XTH Sense are endless because it does one simple, yet visionary thing: transforms your unique expressive biosignature into a creative digital interface.

Play the video to see what you can do with the XTH Sense.

Thanks to its advanced sensing algorithms, the XTH Sense does much more than capturing data from your body. It learns the nuances of your body by extracting precise biophysical features, like:

  • the acoustic properties of the body
  • data patterns created by motion
  • changes in body temperature.

The combination of these features is what we call a biosignature.

Through the XTH Software Suite you can link the sensor data to the stroke of a live drawing in a virtual environment, a 3D avatar’s walk in a fantasy world or the pitch of a chord progression in a musical composition, like Susanne Eder in the video below.

The XTH Sense consists of:

  • The XTH Sense wireless wearable, in two colours: pearl white or obsidian black
  • The XTH Software Suite, professional for experts and easy to use for beginners
  • The XTH Platform, our community hub

All of this works smoothly on Mac OSX, Windows and Linux.

When you wear the XTH Sense an array of biosensors captures 7 types of signals from your body:

1) The sound of your muscles contracting when you move
2) The sound of the heart beating
3) The sound of the blood flowing
4) Temperature
5) Motion
6) Orientation
7) Rotation

The XTH Sense transmits the sound and data wirelessly over radio frequency to communicate with the XTH Software Suite on your laptop. To use the data creatively, all you need to do is launch our plug & play application, or load our plugins in your favorite music, video or creative coding software.

Our intelligent algorithms crunch the data from your body and extract the distinctive characteristics of your movement and inner bodily processes, like movement dynamics, muscular energy and temperature changes. These are the expressive features of your body.

Using the graphical interface of the XTH Software Suite you can easily link your body’s expressive features and raw data to digital content. You can control musical parameters, create digital drawings, interact with game mechanics and play in virtual reality (VR) with your body.

On the XTH Platform, our community web hub, you can share your projects with other XTH Sense users across the world, and find new software applications for the XTH Sense. If you are an expert, you can also offer your skills for hire on the Platform, so others in need can benefit from your expertise, and you can get paid for your work.

It really is that simple. No need to learn how to move or code. Unless you want to.

With the XTH Sense plug & play application you can easily link sensor data to musical parameters, game mechanics or live drawings using a handy graphical interface.

Would you rather use the XTH Sense with another software, say, Ableton Live, Open Frameworks or Unity? Simply open your software, load the XTH Sense plugins and connect the sensor data to a synthesizer, a brush stroke or a virtual character.

Illay Chester tells us about live sampling the sound of her cello with the XTH Sense. She uses her muscle dynamics and motion patterns to change the sound of the cello and activate digital sounds real-time.

Pedro Lopes uses the XTH Sense with the Oculus Rift to control an avatar’s movement in VR. He uses the XTH Sense to track muscle force and arm motion for VR applications.

Gordey Chernyi creates live visuals with the XTH Sense. He uses muscle sounds to control the brush size and density, and motion data to transform the direction and position of 3D objects in space.

The secret of the XTH Sense is a highly sensitive microphone sensor. It amplifies bioacoustic sounds from your body: tiny sounds produced by your muscles contracting, by your heart beating and even by the blood flowing in your veins.

Like magic.

With the XTH Sense you can listen to these sounds, create music by live sampling them, or use them to create ambient sounds for games. It’s like giving your body a voice.

Here’s how muscle sounds look!

In red you can see the sound of Marco’s forearm muscle as he lifts a weight. In blue, at the bottom, you see the sound frequencies that compose the muscle sound (from 1 Hz up to 140 Hz). This type of visualisation is called a spectrogram.

In addition to our unique bioacoustic sensor, the XTH Sense is embedded with 4 more sensors that track temperature, motion, rotation and direction of your body in 9 dimensions. This offers you a multitude of ways to create.

The motion sensors show how your body moves in space, the temperature sensor assesses your heat changes and the bioacoustic sensor reveals how your muscles move within the body. It’s a truly immersive experience.

We made the XTH Sense so sensitive that it captures the most subtle nuances of your body.

You can create your own micro-gestures using tiny movements of the fingers, subtle changes in your muscular tension, or simply the imperceptible beating of your heart.

A high sampling rate is crucial when creating music, drawings or experiencing games and VR, because it ensures a fluid and smooth interaction.

With a sampling rate clocking at 2000 Hz, the XTH Sense is the fastest device you’ll ever need.

To increase the immersivity of an interactive experience it is important to be engaged with the whole body. The XTH Sense works efficiently and reliably on any part of the body.

The XTH Sense comes with wearable bands that fit all ranges of bodies. In addition, the XTH Sense band can be extended so you can comfortably wear it on your arms, legs or torso.

For a fully immersive experience, using multiple XTH Sense on different parts of the body, the XTH Sense Double Set is the best way to go.

The XTH Sense is made of innovative materials that make it lighter than anything else before.

The wearable band is made with a special eco-jersey produced in Italy. It’s gentle on the skin, washable and it stays dry. For the wearable case, we use anti-allergic, washable silicone-polyurethane, in white pearl or black obsidian. It’s nice to touch, textured and indestructible.

The XTH Sense is so light that it feels like a plume on your skin.

Place your laptop wherever you want and roam freely in the space around you, even in larger venues.

The XTH Sense uses radio frequencies to transmit sound and data wirelessly. Our original and open wireless technology works reliably up to 15 meters distance in an open space.

Pictured: [radical] signs of life, a large-scale interactive dance piece realized at EMPAC (NY) by Heidi, our CEO, using 10 XTH Sense. 

Want to visualize what’s happening inside your body or add an interactive light to your projects? The XTH Sense is embedded with a RGB LED that shines in synch with your bioacoustic sounds or motion data.

And if you have the skills, you can program the LED with any behavior you want. The LED can also be switched off to make the XTH Sense more discreet.

The XTH Sense integrates smoothly with your own setup thanks to the XTH Software Suite. The suite includes our plug & play software with MIDI and OSC compatibility, and plugins that let you use the XTH Sense inside your favorite third party software.

We also provide you with an API so you can create your own XTH Sense applications.

The XTH Software Suite is released with an open source GNU GPLV2 license.

Get the best out of your biocreative experience with:

  • Open access to raw bioacoustic sound, temperature and motion data
  • OSC and MIDI data transmission: the XTH Sense talks to any compatible software
  • Native plugins for Ableton Live, Max/MSP, PureData, Unity, Python,  & OpenFrameworks
  • Arduino compatibility: program the XTH Sense from the Arduino IDE
  • Flexible API to develop your own apps

Below you can see our XTH plugin for Ableton Live in action. As you can see at the bottom of the gif, it is super easy to map sensor data from the XTH Sense (the white module bottom left) to control a synthesiser in Ableton (the grey module bottom right).

It doesn’t matter what your previous experience is or what your physical skills are, if you have a body, you can be a creator with the XTH Sense. The XTH Software Suite is designed to be easy to use, so easy that even children can play with it.

The XTH Sense can amplify inner bodily processes so you can listen to them in the form of music or watch them as live visuals. This is called biofeedback, and it helps realign attunement with your body.

These are some inspiring projects created by members of our community.


  • Augment your own musical instrument with biocreative interaction
  • Create music through body sounds, physiology and movements
  • Control your favorite software with your body


  • Sonify or visualize your movement by amplifying your bodily sounds
  • Move lights and visuals according to your physiology
  • Augment your voice with accurate gesture control


  • Create personalized sounds, controls or game mechanics for VR and games
  • Make music or visuals with your heartbeat and share it across a network
  • Design biocreative interaction with web or live animations


  • Amplify sounds of cardiovascular and muscular processes
  • Analyze stress and force levels through bioacoustic muscle sounds
  • Create biofeedback systems with your colleagues or students

We care about education and we want to empower the next generation of creators. We have taught over 40 workshops worldwide in the past 3 years and we have seen first-hand the potential of the XTH Sense for teaching creative media.

If you are an educator or you hold workshops, the XTH Sense EDU Pack is just perfect for you. It includes 4 XTH Sense wearables, the XTH Software Suite and detailed tutorials and teaching materials to help you design your own biocreative course.

“We have incorporated the XTH Sense into our courses to initiate our students into this new creative realm. Whether incorporating sound, choreography and new media into exploratory live performance or movement into interactive installation, the open-architecture of the XTH Sense system give a stable foundation and point-of-departure for biosensing, creative coding and a new sensorial imagination.

Thanks to the XTH Team for this astounding and exciting bioperformance research and development platform.”

Our schematics, wearable designs and source code will be available on our website as soon as we are ready to ship. We have chosen a GNU GPLV2 license for the Software Suite, and a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license for the hardware and design files.

You are free to hack your own XTH Sense and create new projects!

We are inspired by the awesome work being done by folks at Arduino, RaspberryPI and LittleBits, who, like us, want to help creative technologists learn and create.

Join us in defining how our bodies will interact with computers in the years to come.

In combination with the XTH Sense, we have ideated the XTH Platform: an online community where creators, like you, can gather to discuss projects with the XTH Sense, share apps and code, and even get paid for on-demand coding.

It is a platform to get your personal projects done while innovating technology, together.


Here’s the bare bone electronic soul of the XTH Sense.

We have been developing this project so far because we love it. It is a piece of our life and we are sharing it with you in the most open way we can. We chose Kickstarter because it is the home of people like you, like us, who wants to actively be part of the future of technology.

The XTH Sense has been thoroughly tested and is ready for large-scale production. We have visited manufacturing companies in Europe and the U.S. to conduct the preparatory work to ensure all is in place to deliver a great product.

We have developed a precise business plan to successfully deliver the Kickstarter rewards and to support long-term sustainability.

We want XTH to be a rich ecosystem combining instruments, software, and ideas from a broad community of creators worldwide. Our long-term vision is to continue inventing new instruments for creators to enable new modes of expression.

Help us bring biocreative interaction to creators all over the world.

The more XTH Sense we manufacture, the less they will cost. This means that if we receive a high enough volume of requests on Kickstarter, we will be able to cut the production costs of the XTH Sense by about a half and use the remaining funds to deliver the XTH Platform faster.

MISSION: We want to establish a new and open field for sensory experiences, so we have created the XTH Sense as a new medium for expression. We believe technology does not only do things for us, it does things to and with us.

EXPERTISE: We are a passionate team of recognized innovators and authorities in creative technology. We have decades of experience in creative media production, academic research and human-computer interaction design.

ETHOS: We believe in openness and sharing of knowledge as a means of people empowerment. We will not change the world by ourselves, we will do it together with you, our community.

In late 2011, Marco, our CTO, had the idea to use sounds from the body to create music, so he started experimenting with a clumsy wired microphone on a prototype board.

With the help of Dorkbot Edinburgh, the Sound Lab at Edinburgh University and his loving parents, Marco created the earliest version of the XTH Sense. He released it with open source licenses and soon other creators started using the XTH Sense. Our core community was born.

In 2012, Marco met Heidi, our CEO. Heidi brought in great new ideas on how to expand the breadth of use of the XTH Sense, and together with MJ Caselden, they created the first wireless prototype.

Then, something clicked, a bold vision of creating not only a tool, but a radical way for everybody to interact with technology. In 2014, Marco and Heidi founded XTH, Inc. and gathered a group of top engineers, designers, developers and artists.

Together, we have completely redesigned the original XTH Sense, extending its functionalities and applications to provide a whole new experience. Quite a long way, no?

We count on a fantastic network of institutions, art centers and research labs which enables us to test ideas and organize events that are meaningful to creators. These are our main partners and supporters:

Building on ten years of research, development and experimentation, 4DSOUND has developed an innovative spatial sound technology that has significantly improved and expanded the possibilities to create, perform and experience sound spatially. 4DSOUND is a fully omnidirectional sound environment. Sound can move infinitely distant or intimately close to the listener: it moves around, as well as above, beneath, in between or right through them.

HARVESTWORKS is a non-profit contemporary art center that presents experimental art in collaboration with their Technology, Engineering, Art and Music (TEAM) Lab. Since 1977 they have supported the creation of work that explores sound and other new and evolving technologies. In line with the historical E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) they provide an environment for experimentation with technicians, instructors and innovative practitioners in the electronic arts.



AΦE (Esteban Fourmi and Aoi Nakamura) – Dance & Choreography
Susanne Eder – Dance
Maura White – PR & communication
Martina Scala – Campaign editor and motion graphics
That Thing Production – Additional videography
Alessandra Leone – Logo animation
Margherita Pevere – Photography, production, consultancy

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Risks and challenges

With any hardware innovation, there are going to be risks and challenges associated with manufacturing and supply chain logistics. To mitigate this risk, we’ve spent the past two years carefully working through iterative development, testing and experience design. We’ve conducted extensive market research across various sectors through hands-on workshops and meeting one-on-one with artists to refine our algorithms for sensitivity and low latency and to ensure comfort and usability.

The XTH Sense comes from 5 years of rigorous scientific research and artistic practice. Marco Donnarumma and Heidi Boisvert, XTH co-founders, have over 20 years combined experience in managing creative teams, directing artistic collaborations and overseeing hardware/software development.

We have also carefully selected our global team, and possess a strong advisory committee who understand both the unique engineering and software design challenges of sensor-based technology for creative expression as well as the in and outs of running a sustainable business.

In order to produce a large volume of units to fulfill our Kickstarter campaign with high quality components, while maintaining the lowest possible price for our customers, we’ve identified a streamlined manufacturing approach.

We will print the PCB, then assemble components, produce injection mold, and finally insert PCB into the mold. Its a fairly straightforward process, but we plan to hire a logistic person to handle the full production pipeline to ensure the XTH Sense is delivered on time to our Backers.

We believe in open design, development, and knowledge-sharing. This ethos transcends how we run our company and communicate with the public. We will keep backers abreast of our milestones and any set backs as we progress. We are not simply promoting a product, but building a community.

We can’t wait to see what you’ll create with the XTH Sense, so we’ll work diligently to ensure that we meet our delivery estimates. Please don’t hesitate to email us directly if you have further questions at us@xth.io.

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