Arduino makers project - VIWO


Sound, illustration and construction are the key elements of the VIWO box, which contains 16 little wood blocks prepared to disclose 6 amusing illustrations. By placing these living cubes in the right place, it will be possible to discover the supporting role of sound during the resolution of the puzzle.

This first game encourages children to examine the shapes of the object, it stimulates them to recreate the images accurately and it increases their listening skills. To get started, it suffices to touch the writing VIWO. The lid of the box and the available cards function as an amazing game!

The VIWO game box, created with tulipier wood and some plastic components, aims to stimulate children to use their senses while playing. The senses involved are touch, hearing and sight.

While planning and realising this box, my target was to merge the traditional qualities of a wood game with those of modern games that capture children’s attention. To reach my objective, I added an interactive system through the use of objects printed with conductive ink.

The project was made as a Diploma Project at the écal, École Cantonale d’Art in Lausanne, Switzerland, 2014.


What have you made?

ViWo is a musical game box for children made with wood.
The game aims to stimulate children to use their senses while playing. The senses involved are touch, hearing and sight.

What gave you the initial inspiration?

Children were my source of inspiration: their reactions to the qualities of a wooden object and to the surprise it may create in them with unexpected sounds while playing.

What is the original idea behind this project?

The objective of my project was to develop a toy that would keep the traditional qualities of a wood game, adding the features of modern games that attract attention of children. The qualities of a wooden game reside in the feelings you get when you touch it, and I wanted to have these feelings combined with modern technologies.

VIWO is a combination of the words vivo and wood. Vivo (Vi) in Italian means a living thing and Wo stands for Wood. I chose this name because my wood box can seem alive in the eyes of a child.

How does it work?

When you open the box you find two games.

The first game is in the lid of the box and reacts when the child touches the logo VIWO. You can also put different plexiglas cards on top of the lid and change the game and sound playing with them.

The second game is composed of sixteen wooden cubes. When the child puts them in the inside the box, they reproduce 6 different illustrations.

The key element in the toy is the sound: each face of the sixteen cubes is recognized by a specific sound. When you find the right place and position, ViWo plays the corresponding sound and this helps the child solve the puzzle.

When the cube is not in the right place, ViWo doesn’t play any sound, so the child knows it’s not correct.

I chose the instruments that play the sounds according to the image: for the flower illustration it’s a growing sound; for the elephant a heavy sound that recalls its steps; for the smile a robotic sound, etc.

I used the same criteria when I chose the songs: I reflected on the rhythm, melody and the feelings that the song evoked.

How long did it take to make it real?

Six months.

How did you build it?

Silk screen printing on wood with conductive ink: this ink is the key of my project.

For the sound: I selected 6 different songs from various artists such as John Lennon, Manu Chao, the Beatles, and others; I edited the songs with new instruments to create a funny new version for children. To edit them, I chose the instruments according to their type of sound.

For example, the sounds produced by the fish illustration recalls underwater sounds.

The individual musical notes produced by placing the cubes come from the final song that will be played only once the entire drawing is completed by placing the right cubes in the right places.

The mechanism of the game activating the sounds is located inside the two boxes. To recognize each face of each cube, for a total of 96 faces, I designed 96 different graphics circuits and then I built the six illustrations on them.

These circuits are printed with conductive ink and, when the cubes touch the pressure contacts on the bottom of the box, they send a value to the Arduino, which translates them into the corresponding sound.

Materials: Tulipier wood, plexiglas, conductive ink, Arduino Uno, Arduino Waveshield.