The BodySynth was conceived by Chris Van Raalte in 1986 as a tool for dancers to create their own music using the bioelectric signals of their movements*. A year later he was joined by Ed Severinghaus, a talented electrical engineer who went on to build a wireless device that could be comfortably worn and used by a performer. He also built and wrote code for a stand-alone dedicated microprocessor which obviates the use of a PC or Laptop. The final iteration was completed in 1996 and still used today.
Mr. Van Raalte first appeared in a public performance with The BodySynth at CyberArts held in Pasadena in 1991. This lead to many appearences locally in the Bay Area and around the country. Most notable was an invitation in 1994 to appear in the opening ceremony at MacWorld,Tokyo, and participation in"The Future Zone", part of the WOMAD tour in 1996.
Mr. Van Raalte and Mr. Seveinghaus became business partners in 1999 when they formed CyberWear Associates in order to develop and market a toy version of The BodySynth which they called "The Jammer". Ultimately a version went to Toy Fair in 1999.
Between 1997 and 2000, Mr. Van Raalte explored the utility of The BodySynth as a musical therapy assistive device for persons with disabilities. A description of this work was presented at a conference on technology and disability (see next section).
*Around the same time other groups were also persuing this idea. See D. Rosenboom (LEARNADO Monograph Series, ISAST, San Francisco, 1990, 1997); R. Gilette et. al. ("MADDM-Dance Directed Music",1985); and BioMuse