With DIY gear so readily available, building your own controllers can be fun, rewarding and really creative. Here, Liam Lacey shows you how to make your own 3D gesture-sensing USB MIDI controller.
Over the past ten years or so there have been a growing number of consumer products and sensors brought to market that allow 3D gesture and motion tracking for controlling computers, games consoles, and other electronic devices. These include camera-based devices such as the Microsoft Xbox Kinect or the Leap Motion Controller; accelerometer/gyroscope-based devices such as the Nintendo Wii Remote or the Apple iPhone as well as completely novel devices such as the EMG-based Thalmic Labs Myo armband or the Radar-based Project Soli sensor by Google.
The majority of these devices - whether officially or through hacks - can be used to control music software; applications such as Geco MIDI for the Leap Motion Controller or Leviathan for the Myo allow these devices to be turned into expressive gesture and motion sensing MIDI/OSC controllers. There are also a few purpose-built gesture-based music controllers such as the mi.mu gloves, the Percussa Audiocubes, or the Source Audio Hot Hand.

However, thanks to the recent development of the Microchip MGC3130 gesture and tracking chip, a number of new affordable sensor boards are being introduced that allow you to create 3D hand gesture and tracking devices with ease and for less than $40. One range of these sensor boards is the Pi Supply Flick range – a set of surface-mountable boards that can detect seven different specific hand gestures as well as 3D XYZ tracking within a range of 15cm, which also have touch sensing for 15 different types of touches. While most of the Flick boards are designed to attach to Raspberry Pi boards, there is a standalone Flick board which can connect to any other I2C enabled microcontroller or microprocessor such as Arduino, Teensy, or BeagleBone.”