The DEMON Biocontroller


The DEMON biocontroller is a new system designed by the FAIT team which transforms MIDI-generated events into human body movements and gestures.

A set of miniature skin electrodes are strapped onto a human subject, positioned over the muscle groups to be controlled. These electrodes receive their input from the DEMON's switching processor, which channelizes incoming MIDI events by note numbers and directs the analog signals to their own pair of electrodes; MIDI note velocities determine the strength of the signal sent to a given muscle group. The system is powered by a set of belt-mounted gel cell batteries.

The DEMON is programmable and recognizes MIDI program change commands. This means its internal configuration (MIDI note/channel assignments, velocity/ voltage curves, continuous controller assignments, etc...) can be instantly changed at any time during its use with the press of a button on the master controller.

The DEMON system is expandable to allow for demanding applications utilizing complex electrode arrays - up to 128 separate electrodes can be triggered with one controller. In addition, the DEMON wireless MIDI receiver is tunable, to allow for multiple DEMONs to be implemented simultaneously, if necessary.

The DEMON can be triggered "live" by a human being playing a MIDI controller (keyboard or electronic drum trigger) or from a MIDI sequencer. The "live" mode allows realtime control of the subject for performance or experimental purposes. The sequenced mode allows a fully-edited, preprogrammed set of body movements to be executed flawlessly every time. Both modes allow the use of continuous controllers for sweeping voltages between programmable electrode sets.

A Myriad of Commercial Applications:

The DEMON system was used on the 1993 Spinal Tap concert tour to keep the band's drummer, Rick Shrimpton, in perfect meter, even following long nights of substance abuse. This application was so successful, it prompted a series of inquiries from other major rock acts, including the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead. Repeated inquiries from various surviving members of the Led Zepplin band have prompted research into higher-voltage thresholds and their effects on dead muscle tissue, lending new hope for an eventual reunion of that band.

DEMON Update!

Recent experiments with the DEMON system at FAIT have incorporated an alternative Alternative Interface device to create strange biofeedback loops!

Our researchers are conducting experiments using the DEMON connected in tandem with Ed Severinghaus' BodySynth(tm) system (which transforms movements, gestures, and other muscle efforts into MIDI events). With the two units used simultaneously, an arm movement will trigger the BodySynth to create a MIDI note, which, when fed into the input of the DEMON, will trigger another body movement (a leg movement, for example). To simplify: One movement begets another.

Although limited in its usefulness, this configuration has nevertheless had some interesting (and sometimes amusing) applications: