The sponge is a piece of foam equipped with sensors (accelerometers and force sensing resistors) which can detect when it is squeezed, twisted or shaken. Sensor data is then sent wirelessly (XBee protocol) to a computer.
It could probably be used to control any kind of digital process (like video or lighting), but I designed it as a musical interface. I use it in live performances to control sound synthesis and processing. The video below shows Myriam Bleau and me performing at the NIME conference in London, 2014-06.
I have been composing electroacoustic music since 1998. Even though I really enjoy the musical possibilities made available by the various electronic tools (recording devices, microphones, digital processing, etc), I miss the natural gesture-sound link that is inherent to the practice of an acoustic instrument. I miss the playful aspect of it, and I miss the interaction with the audience that it allows. (Especially considering the fact that, in the typical electroacoustic concert, music is played back and the role of the performer is minor.)
I think using digital musical interfaces could help establish a clear gesture-sound link.
The very first sponge was made of actual kitchen sponges sewn together. It did not last long: the seems broke during its first and only performance.
Its successor, the first real sponge, used Infusion Systems hardware and was used for performance 4 or 5 times. A paper about it is avaiblable. It still works, but it has been replaced by the latest version (2.1, nicknamed spongeBee) which is Arduino and XBee based.
The old sponge.
The WiMicroDig (Infusion Systems) on the old sponge.
Transparent view of the old sponge. We can see the Force Sensing Resistors (3 and 5) and the accelerometers (2 and 4).