Andrew McPherson

Researcher, composer, engineer and instrument designer


Open-source audio maker platform

Bela is an open-source hardware platform for creating beautifully responsive interactive systems. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016, it spun out into a company Augmented Instruments Ltd which supports a growing community of makers, musicians, artists, engineers and researchers.

Bela originated from the Hackable Instruments research project (EPSRC, 2013-14) and reached its public form through the collective efforts of the Augmented Instruments Lab from 2014-16.

The Bela hardware consists of an embedded computer (based on the BeagleBone series of open-source boards) with custom hardware for capturing audio and sensor signals. It runs a specialist operating system with several distinctive features:

  • Ultra low audio latency (input-output delay), as low as 1 millisecond
  • Sample-accurate synchronisation between audio and sensor signals
  • A built-in browser-based IDE for developing projects
  • A flexible browser-based oscilloscope
  • Support for C++ and popular music programming languages like Pd, SuperCollider, Csound and FAUST.
  • A comprehensive onboard library of example materials

All of the software and hardware designs are freely available on GitHub. For more information about what Bela does and how to use it, see the Bela Knowledge Base.

The Bela blog features projects made by the Bela community. Support is available through the Knowledge Base and Bela forum.

Thousands of makers, artists and engineers are using Bela to create new interactivep projects. Bela is also used for teaching in over 20 universities around the world. See the Bela in education page for further details on using Bela for teaching and research.

More examples of musical projects made with Bela are featured at the online Maker Music Festival.