A wearable machine turns tattoos into music

This device reads tattoos and translates them into electronic sounds.

Moscow-based artist Dmitry Morozov — commonly referred to as ::vtol:: — has created a unique sound controller to read musical scores implanted in tattoos.


“This is a special instrument that combines [the] human body and [a] robotic system into a single entity that is designed to automate [the] creative process in an attempt to represent the artist and his instrument as a creative hybrid,” Morzov explained in a recent blog post.

The scanning instrument — which is aptly called Reading My Body is comprised of a metal railing, hand controllers and parallel black line sensors that move along the arm using a stepper motor. In addition, it includes a Nintendo Wii controller that uses an Open Sound Control mechanism to add more sounds when moved by the hand. A stepper motor guides the device along the inked lines, while the length of each bar coincides with the duration of an emitted tune.


On the hardware side, the musical creation is built around an Arduino Nano (ATmega328), a Nord Modular G2, a Symbolic Sound Kyma X, and a six-channel PVC pipe sound system.

According to ::vtol::, the tattoo is specifically designed to contain the maximum number of variable time slots between triggers. The Maker reveals it is possible to manually drive the velocity of the sensors’ movement, direction and step length so that, when combined, gives an infinite number of variations of reading patterns from hand. However, controlling the parameters and sensors’ movements can also be programmed to operate autonomously.

Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official page as well as a number of the Maker’s other projects here.

4 thoughts on “A wearable machine turns tattoos into music

  1. Pingback: Converting solar radiation into sound, light and electric discharges | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

  2. Pingback: Rewind: 27 Maker musical masterpieces from 2014 | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

  3. Pingback: ATmega2560 powers this interactive multi-channel robot orchestra | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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