textile sound51

The drum set of the future – a tablecloth

Instead of sitting quietly at the dining table, why not play a drum solo or a piano sonata? Smart Textiles researchers Mats Johansson and Li Guo have developed a tablecloth on which one can play the drums or the piano. The cloth features a yarn that is made from so-called ‘conductive fibres’, which convert touch into electrical signals. These are transmitted to a programmed chip, which in turn produces the sound of your favourite instrument – or whatever sound you like!


The idea for the musical cloth originated with Mats Johansson, whose initial vision was to create an armchair that one could play like an instrument. As early as the 1980s, Mats had experimented with piezoelectric buzzers sewn into jeans, which functioned as wearable drum sets. Together with Li Guo, who wrote her doctoral thesis on textile sensors made of conductive fibres, he has developed the musical tablecloth.

The future application areas of the technology are not limited to playing music at the dining table. The sensors in the cloth may come to be used in, for example, pedagogical contexts, or the areas of elderly and social care, as a carpet with sensors could automatically set off an alarm and make a call to a pre-programmed number were someone to fall on it. Sensors react to change, and can even detect moisture; thus, they can also trigger an alarm if someone falls into water. Read more about the musical tablecloth in the Smart Textiles magazine, which comes out at the end of February.

Smart Textiles appears on TV4’s Nyhetsmorgon tomorrow (Friday, February 12)!

Smart Textiles researcher Mats Johansson will demonstrate the musical tablecloth and talk about textile sensors on TV4’s Nyhetsmorgon tomorrow (Friday, February 12). The show airs between 5:50am and 10pm. Don’t miss it!

See the tablecloth live below, or at BT.se