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TL;DR A musical instrument completely controlled by your face.

Smile to begin - click your face to change to a different instrument.


An augmented reality, real-time motion-capture, machine-learning powered, holographic, accessible general MIDI controller and synthesizer (that comes without a manual).

Abstract - Just what is it?

An exended-reality accessible musical synthesizer - completely controlled by your face.

By piggybacking onto a person's own natural movements, we reduce the complexity required to learn a new instrument to mere moments whilst retaining full expression and precise control.

We can convert smiles into musical notes and winks into audio controls.

This virtual interface has no moving parts, requires no extra hardware, and can run on most modern computers and mobile phones.

We can use a person's own expressions and movements to control and manipulate hardware, software and data to create music.


I have been researching and creating accessible technology for over twenty years and for the past 10 have been helping run a monthly workshop alongside Drake Music Charity that brings together people who struggle to play traditional instruments, and technology focussed individuals who know how to build and make things. The charity work directly alongside schools and individuals offering real world use cases and genuine feedback - indispensable when simplicity is the aim. Together we have created a whole number of accessible musical instruments, some that are repurposing of existing instruments and some entirely new. My focus for the past few years has been to try and create musical instruments & music creation tools with the lowest barriers to entry - intuitive tools that everybody can play instinctively, that are easy to obtain and fun to play too! Currently the only requirement for this one to play is a mouth, but that could be swapped for eyes or eyebrows, the technology is quite broad!

Ultimately, this tool allows all sorts of people to create their own sounds and music but the technology can be expanded to control anything.

Potential plans

Add more musicality, expression and to create an app version that would allow it to run smoother on mobile devices. I think this would be key to getting it onto everybody's devices and the app stores also offers retail opportunities.

Already there are plans for a recording looper and effects but ideally the full magnitude of the project would be suggested by user cases in an attempt to streamline the simplicity and minimize development costs whilst still offering a viable product.

MIDI connection to other devices or software

Can be used as a controller for other hardware MIDI devices and in duet-mode allows 2 people to independently control individual MIDI channels in realtime together.

In single player mode, the MIDI events currently get broadcast to all channels.

The prototype has only basic note on / note off / pitch bend MIDI interaction but I would like to add after touch to the interface, perhaps eye brow control? Eye direction currently controls pitch bend on MIDI but stereo panning on the synth.

I would also like to develop certain different modes - as well as the expressive mode which works in direct relation with facial movements (as it currently works) would be a more fun but equally satisfying pop music factory mode where the mouth controls the playback and amplitude of the next phrase in a sequence (loaded from a MIDI file) whilst a backing track supports you. I think that would be a lot of fun and smooths over the latency issues.

Given enough time it would be possible to save MIDI files directly from the app too, turning it into a rudimentary face controlled DAW.


  • If your MIDI device is not found, try connecting it directly to a USB port, rather than through a hub or USB-C convertor
  • If your face is not found, try and improve the brightness in the room by turning on some lights
  • If the website does not load and shows "loading" forever, hard refresh your browser
  • After installing the app it doesn't load, uninstall and re-run it

Build from source

  • Install NodeJS 12.8.3+ and Yarn
  • Download the source code and enter the directory
  • open a terminal / cli / bash / command prompt
  • enter yarn install
  • then yarn build
  • Your interFACE will be built into the dist folder

Other commands

All commands are run from the root of the project, from a terminal:

Command Action
yarn install Installs dependencies
yarn reset && parcel serve source/*.pug -p 909 freshstart
parcel serve source/*.pug -p 909 start
node actions/clean.mjs clean out the dist/ folder
node actions/changelog.mjs create change log and
jsdoc -d dist/docs --configure .jsdoc.json source/index.js create documentation
yarn dev Starts local dev server at localhost:909
yarn build Build production site to ./dist/
yarn test Ensure the environment is set up to build
release:* patch/minor/major : increment version and deploy

Future plans

  • Better musicality and expression
  • Upgraded synth engine
  • MIDI phrase support
  • Percussion that sounds beefier!
  • Hand remote Controls
  • Full Body version for beats
  • Saving "Personas" and using face ID loading them back in
  • Vocoder mode using microphone
  • Improved timing
  • MIDI 2.0 (MPE) Support
  • Better WAM2 support and implementation
  • Favouriting instruments so they go to the top of the list per person
  • Adding new instruments!


  • Face
  • Video camera or web cam
  • A screen with dimensions greater than 320 x 280 pixels
  • A relatively modern computer (GPU prefered)
  • Speakers or headphones or MIDI equipment
  • Optional: GamePAD / Mouse / Keyboard / finger to change settings


  • Requires Yarn 3+



  • Gawain Hewitt
  • Becky Morris Knight
  • Tim Yates
  • Andrew MacPherson
  • Thomas Bonte
  • Darren Southea
  • Michel Buffa
  • Jean-Baptiste Thiebaut
  • Severin Meyer

Check it out over at

Other links & Supporters

Accessibilty Checklist :

  • Accessible
  • In terms of the physical format of the instrument, or the design of the software. This could mean using high contrast colours to remove visibility barriers, or keeping an interface streamlined to remove complexity barriers.
  • Authentic - co-created with disabled folk
  • Affordable - free mode for all courtesy of github
  • Available - online, no password, installable directly
  • Adaptable - configurable and mappable


  • augmented reality
  • extended reality
  • pose piggybacking
  • natural interface
  • musical instrument
  • synthesizer
  • MIDI hardware controller

Questions and known unknowns

  • head angle causes issues with the calculations

  • put me in touch with the right people at tensorflow

  • following human emotions to change / set the instruments / scale

  • recording performances to a server / video recording

  • analysis of voice commands!

  • recognition of faces and preserving state


webcam based musical instrument







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