The Sound of Touch

A new instrument for real-time capture and sensitive physical stimulation of sound samples using digital convolution. Users operate a hand-held wand to record sound, then brush, scrape, strike or otherwise physically manipulate this sound against a "texture kit" of physical objects.

Enhanced Life

The Sound of Touch enables people to manipulate sound samples in a way that is much more immediate and intuitive than current digital tools. The system's technology and interface designs adopt characteristics of acoustic instruments, making samples that are recorded on-the-spot malleable and flexible through continuous gestural interaction with physical textures and resonant objects.


To demonstrate a system that gives children and adults a truly new way to interact with sound.


The Sound of Touch builds on a technique for continuous digital convolution developed by Roberto Aimi for creation of semi-acoustic musical instruments. A stand-alone wand incorporates both a microphone for recording samples and a piezoelectric sensor for stimulating the samples. A "texture kit" enables sonic experimentation with a wide range of physical textures and resonant objects.


Because it makes sonic exploration so intuitive, a generation of musicians could adopt this system as their preferred synthesis technique in the next 10 years. Ultimately, the system could become a commercial product that would enable people to paint with sound wherever and whenever they want, either for professional sound-design projects or just for play.


David Merrill
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab
dmerrill (at)


Hayes Raffle
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab

Roberto Aimi
Alium Labs LLC