The Breath Car

The Breath Car is part of Matthew Irvine Brown‘s projects involving playful designs for beginner musicians in need of practice. Just like in Rehearsal Joypads, the object has been designed to help learn a specific skill needed to play a real instrument.


The standard remote control toy car features a mouthpiece the player blows into in order to control steering. Blow gradually harder and it steers to the right; blow gradually softer and it steers to the left. At least 80% of the technique of singing or playing any wind instrument is concerned with controlled breathing. This toy replicates many traditional breathing excercises in a context of play, whilst providing clear goals and requiring a degree of mastery through repeated practice.
Steering/breathing instructions can be described using standard musical notation (dynamics, tempo, duration of notes, phrasing, breath marks – but no key or pitch).


How does it work?

The controller contains a MIDI breath controller which converts breath pressure to MIDI data. This is sent to MAX/MSP which converts MIDI to serial data.

Serial data is sent via Bluetooth and PIC chip to a servo on the car which controls the steering. The forward and backward controls are hacked from a cheap toy car.