[July 21] Heidi Boisvert – Introducing the XTH Sense

XTH, makers of open biotechnologies for creative expression, presents an exclusive preview of the world’s first biowearable musical instrument, the XTH Sense. Come learn about the unique features and diverse applications of the XTH Sense and try one on to explore your own unique musical signature.

Tuesday July 21st, 2015, Harvestworks

Today, we can track all kinds of data from the body. But the body is not only data. It’s vibration. It’s physical. It’s about resonance and shared human experience. We are passionate about sound. We are passionate about the expressivity of our bodies. And we are advocates of free and open knowledge. That’s why XTH brings expressive and open biotechnology to everyone. We want to enable new modes of expression and empower people with technology that they can love and repurpose.

Our first product, The XTH Sense™ is a wearable musical instrument based on original biophysical technology. It captures and amplifies sounds from the heart, blood and muscles, and enables anybody to create and play
interactive music from the inaudible sounds of their inner bodies.

The XTH Sense™ consists of a slick, organic design with a soft touch, which can be worn anywhere, so that it feels like a natural, integral part of the body.

The wearable is embedded with a unique array of biosensors, including bioacoustic, body temperature, and 9-degrees-of-freedom IMU unit, which includes an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and magnetometer. The bioacoustic
sensors capture sounds from the heart beating, the blood flowing and the muscles contracting–externalizing how movement is generated inside the body.

The sound and data generated from the user’s body are then sent over a wireless connection to several dedicated apps. Here, software algorithms analyze the acoustic properties of the bodily sounds and data, and then associate those features to musical parameters. Because of the richness and diversity of sound and the biosignals coming from the XTH Sense™, the creation of music is highly engaging and personal.

The demo will showcase some of the key features and diverse applications for musicians, scientists and educators. Participants will also be able try on an XTH Sense and discover how their own human body possesses a distinct signature and gesture vocabulary that creates unique music.


Heidi Boisvert is a new media artist, game designer, creative technologist, experimental filmmaker, and writer based in New York. Heidi founded and serves as the CEO and Creative Director of the futurePerfect lab, a boutique creative agency that works with non-profits, cultural and educational institutions to develop imaginative and playful applications of integrated media and emerging technology. She was formerly the Multi-Media Director at Breakthrough, a global human rights organization, where she designed, developed and virally propagated a wide range of new media and pop culture campaigns that helped raise awareness and instigate policy change on pressing social issues. She created the first 3D social change game, ICED I Can End Deportation, to shift the frame around unfair U.S. immigration policies. ICED was downloaded by over 250,000 players in 166 countries, and earned tremendous media attention (23 newspapers, 134 blogs, 295 radio broadcasts, 68 television broadcasts, and 76 internet news & search engines). She also designed America 2049, a groundbreaking alternative reality game on Facebook about pluralism, featuring Harold Perrineau (LOST), Victor Garber (ALIAS), Cherry Jones (24), Anthony Rapp (RENT) and the comedian Margaret Cho has been featured in Kotaku, TIME, Wired, Salon, Fast Company, Washington Post, and Huffington Post, to name a few, and nominated for a Games for Change Award and Katerva Award. Prior to joining Breakthrough, Heidi taught Digital Media & Media Studies at Hunter College, and launched a free digital media program for low-income youth through Time Warner & NOAA funding. Most recently, Heidi co-founded XTH, an open source biophysical wearable sensor start up. She is also completing a PhD in the Electronic Arts program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and was named a Harvestworks Creativity + Technology = Enterprise Fellow with support by the Rockefeller Foundation. She has been an artist-in-residence at Banff New Media Institute, the Waag Society and the Vermont Studio Center, and served as a new media mentor for both the National Latino Producer’s Academy and BAVC Producer’s Institute.

Marco Donnarumma is an internationally renown performer, musician and researcher active since 2004. He works with biotechnologies for the performing arts since 6 years, when he created the Xth Sense. He has over a decade of experience in creating and performing with new musical instruments, and has published his research in specialized conferences and top tier journals.

He uses human bodies and machines as materials. Working with biophysical media, that is, biomedical technologies, sound devices, computer software, sensor and transducers, he creates artworks where human bodies and machines extend, transform or disrupt each other. His live performances, concerts and installations are renown for combining rigorous science, technical sophistication and critical concepts into intense live experiences.
Marco has performed and spoken in over 50 countries across North and South America, Asia, Australia and Europe. His works have been presented at leading art and music events, digital, sound and performance art festivals, research institutions, historical music venues and national museums. Among them are Sónar+D, ISEA, Venice Biennale, BBC Music, ISCM World Music Days, transmediale, CTM, FILE, Panorama, NYEAF, Sound Art China, CYNETART, Piksel, EMPAC, Stanford CCRMA, NYU, STEIM, IRCAM, FACT, Experimental Intermedia, Spectrum NYC, Café Oto, Mumuth Concert Hall, Hoerbar, Museo Reina Sofia, CCCB Barcelona.

He has received a number of awards, most notably the first prize in the Guthman New Musical Instrument Competition (Georgia Tech, US) for the Xth Sense; the Cynetart Prize for Computer Based Art (DE) and the Transitio New Media Art Award (MX) for Nigredo, created with Marije Baalman.

His projects have been reviewed on BBC, The WIRE, Forbes, Reuters, ARTE.TV, Wired, RTVE, El Pais, CreativeApplications, ResonanceFM, Weave, Create Digital Music, We Make Money Not Art and Digicult. He was granted fundings from the European Commission, British Council, Creative Scotland, New Media Scotland, and the Danish Arts Council. He has received commissions from Festival Transmediale and the European Conference of Promoters of New Music, among the others, and has been an invited artist in residence at STEIM (NL), Inspace (UK), and the National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance (DK).


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Marije Baalman, Engineer
Simon Claussen, Engineer
William Brent, API Developer
Marina Toeters, Industrial Designer
Paola Terzi, Graphic Designer

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