Arduino makers project - Dadabox


DaDa Box is an interactive storytelling object. It adopts the idea of “Collage” from Dadaism, a cultural movement in 1910s, allows a person to generate stories by a simple tangible action: shaking. When the box is shaken, a story contained inside switches its order randomly by sentence, and starts playing to the listener. The first application is a poem generator. The poem by Kurt Schwitters is stored in the box. With each shaking action, different orders of this poem are generated and played.

The Project was made by Jifei Ou, who is a PhD candidate and researcher at MIT Media Lab. The project was done when he was studying Product Design in Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach in 2010.


What have you made?

I designed and made an interactive object that can shuffle the audio content by being shaken. The design of the object’s form and the programming with the controller are equally important in this project.

What gave you the initial inspiration?

I’m very fascinated by the concept of “collage” in the art world. It is not only a democratic way of creating, but it also leaves a wide space to interpretation. When I was reading poems from Kurt Schwitters, it hit me how one poem could unfold itself into several. I wanted to share my experience with others by making it tangible.

What is the original idea behind this project?

As human beings, our understanding of the world is tightly related to our body movement. As the realm of digital world is expanding, it seems that we only need to “touch” or “swipe” to interact with information. The question is, how can we design and build interfaces that are more bodily engaging?

How does it work?

Upload a poem you want to shuffle to the Arduino WaveShield. Each line is one .wav file.
Turn on the DaDa Box by rotating the upper part, until you see the LED ring light up.
Shake it to trigger the shuffle. After 3 seconds of shuffle, the audio will start to play.
Put the DaDa Box close to your ear to hear the poem.
Repeat c and d to rearrange the verses of the poem and hear each time a new poem made by the same verses.

How long did it take to make it real?

I spent two weeks to design the form of the DaDa Box; one week fabricating the final object (lathe machining, polishing and painting), and another week on getting all the electronics working (programming, soldering, and mechanical design).

How did you build it?

The shell of the DaDa Box, which contains all of the electronic components, was first formed on a lathe machine from a single high-density foam block. All mechanical joints and connection parts were handcrafted. After that, I sanded it with different grits of sandpaper till it became really smooth. Then I painted every part with white paint.
DaDa Box contains an Arduino Uno Board, a Waveshield for audio playing, an accelerometer, a mini speaker, 5 blue LEDs and a LiPo 9V battery.