Click to learn about i3 ese projectsCARESS is a European Community funded project within the i3 programme of technology research.

i3 is the European long-term research initiative to develop intelligent information interfaces. The second (and current) programme, entitled Experimental School Environments (ESE), explores new child-centred paradigms for learning, through novel IT-based devices, artefacts and environments. The focus is on the 4-8 year age range.

Project Overview

The purpose of CARESS has been to create technological and educational tools that will motivate and empower children to develop creativity, imagination and expression, through interactive acoustic environments. The technological hub of the project has been the Soundbeam, a British invention that converts physical gesture into sound. A number of new interfaces were developed by the Bristol partners in England. These include two types of wearable sensor (to complement Soundbeam's own spatial sensor) and sound transformation software and hardware, to make the control of sound more intuitive, interactive and exploratory.

The new devices have been introduced to special and mainstream schools in England and Sweden. Through a programme of Action Research these interfaces have been trialled, refined and evaluated. Working closely with children and their teachers possibilities for curriculum development were devised and trialled alongside the refinement of the new interfaces.

The Technology

Muscle Sensor
The EMG (Electromyograph) sensor detects muscular activity through pads placed on the skin. In addition to detecting gross movements, they are sensitive enough to pick up the intention to move, where the muscle contraction is not sufficient to generate movement. This provides children with special needs with additional means of expression and communication, leading to the development of physical and cognitive skills.

See the muscle sensor in use
Wireless Joint-angle Sensor (OFG)
The OFG (Optical Fibre Goniometer) is an angle sensor constructed from a short segment of optical fibre, that can detect the movement across joints such as the elbow or knee, from the amount of bend in the fibre. Combined with a wireless communications link, this becomes particularly valuable for use in mainstream schools, because it will provide freedom of movement, unobstructed by wires, so that the technology enables, not hinders, the process of learning to express.

See the bend sensor in use
Fluid Sound Control
The MIDI signals generated from the sensors are, by default, a set of notes on a scale, which rise and fall in pitch according to the movements. Using digital signal processing, the pitch can be made continuous, so that changes are fluid. Not only pitch is controllable, but also reverb, flanging, granulation or any other property that you want to control. This is made possible by configuring the SoundBeam to work with a programmable soft-synth. It enables work with a vast palette of sounds (including live sound) and straightforward intuitive control of the sound.

Find out more and download the software

The Schools

The Lambert School, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
The school caters for children in the age range 2-19 years and has been involved in the development of the Sound Therapy approach from the very beginnings. CARESS works with children with profound multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and severe learning difficulties (SLD). The involvement of teachers, classroom assistants and physiotherapists and speech therapists has ensured continuity of learning and support for the work of the CARESS team.
Beaudesert St. Mary's R.C. Primary School, Henley-in-Arden, UK
St. Mary's is a small community primary school with around 65 children on roll. CARESS has been working with children aged 4-8 years on a range of projects. These include classroom based curriculum work and after school activities. Teaching staff contribute significantly to the research programme and are invited to explore new ways of learning with the technology that CARESS has brought into the school.
Tusenskönan, Landskrona, Sweden
Tusenskönan (lit. thousand petals) is a Montessori-based school with 120 children from 4-11 years of age. The classes are mixed-age and the curriculum centres on 'creative learning'. Children in the 6-8 age range are actively involved in the CARESS project.
Särskolan, Landskrona, Sweden
Special Needs school for people in the 7-21 age range, with a range of disabilities. Here, two 8 year old girls with PMLD have been selected to work with the CARESS project. The research programme involves physiotherapists, occupational therapists and educational assistants.

Project Partners

Co-ordinating and Educational Partner
Professor Phil Ellis and Lisa Percy at the School of Arts, Design and Media, University of Sunderland, UK
Educational Partner
Stefan Hasselblad at Emaljskolan, Landskrona, Sweden
Technological Partner
Dr Nishan Canagarajah and Dr Paul Masri at the Digital Music Research Group, University of Bristol, UK

Stefan, Nishan, Paul, Lisa and Phil

Contacting CARESS

Professor Phil Ellis is the co-ordinator of the CARESS project. Click here for contact details.

If you wish to give us feedback about this web-site (just the CARESS-related pages), the webmaster is Dr Paul Masri. Send him an email at

The CARESS web-site was launched on Friday, 5th March 1999. Latest update 30th June 2000.
Legal Information: All contents of this site, including text, images, audio and video remain the copyright (©1999,2000) of the CARESS partners. None of the content may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of the authors.