No New Folk Studio Inc., a Japanese hardware startup, creates technology for artists and performers with a focus on wireless interaction and the Internet of Things (IoT). Their new endeavor is a smart-shoes system named “Orphe,” which is designed for performance that functions both as a customizable lighting system and a musical instrument/audio-visual controller.
Each Orphe shoe contains a small unified circuit board with an ARM Cortex-M3 microprocessor, invensense mpu9150 motion-tracking device, wireless module (Bluetooth LE), and charging circuit. The sole is surrounded by high-density LED tape with lights that can be controlled individually by the microprocessor, which allows users to map interactions between their movements and light and sound.
The shoes can be used in conjunction with various applications on smartphones or computers via Bluetooth. The company provides a free iOS application that allows users to control the lights on the shoes and integrate Orphe into their performances (Android and OSX versions will be developed if enough funding is secured).
The company also plans to release an SDK to make it easy for anyone to create applications that use Orphe hardware, and, in fact, encourages users to develop and release their own applications. There’s a system for users to share the assets they’ve created online, with the hope that it will foster a community of artists and performers working in different media and genres who can take inspiration from each other’s use of Orphe hardware.
The company’s goal is to engage the participation of diverse artists (dancers, musicians, developers and designers) so the technology can lead to the emergence of a new culture of audio/visual expression.
Images and video: No New Folk Studio