Feb 292012

photo by Jello Mold Competition

A few months ago we put together a little team to enter the Jello Mold Competition at Gowanus Studio Space. The team members were me, Ranjit Bhatnagar, Astrida Valigorsky, and Mimi Hui. After a false start or two, we ended up making a working toy piano out of jello (and some electronics). You can see them in action on the videos below.

As part of our experiments we realized that jello and fruit, which contain a lot of water, are conductive. Embedded in each jello/fruit key is a sterling silver pin (food safe) connected to an Arduino microcontroller underneath the piano’s base. Below the piano’s case is another sterling silver pin. With this setup, the JelTone can either be played with a metal utensil connected to the Arduino, gloves enhanced with conductive thread, or bare hands by touching both a key and the piano’s case.

If you’d like to make your own, you can get the project files, code and instructions from Thingiverse.

The JelTone (in its jello and fruit versions) was exhibited and eaten at the 2011 Solid Sound Festival (Mass MoCA), the Jello Mold Competition (where it was awarded the creativity prize), the NY Hall of Science “Dead or Alive” Halloween Festivities, the Toy Piano Festival, and the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition.

A stellar performance by Ranjit at the
Guthman Musical Instrument Competition

A master pianist plays the Jeltone at the NY Hall of Science

The Jeltone at the 2011 Solid Sound Festival

The Jeltone at the Jello Mold Competition