What have you made?
We created audio sequencer which redefines the typical audio device “look and feel” in term of interaction design.
What gave you the initial inspiration?
There are many inspirations for tangible interfaces around us. Great example is one of interaction design classics - Marble Answering Machine by Durell Bishop. It uses the familiarity of self-explaining natural objects instead of button interface. The aesthetics of interaction also refers to postmaterialism in which the device itself is only a container for our experiences and has nothing to do with technical attributes.
What is the original idea behind this project?
The project is unique in its physical manipulation of elements. Usually audio devices consists of buttons and knobs. We decided to simplify the interactions by using familiarity of intuitive wooden discs and holes to encourage the expected action. The minimalistic and natural character of table is another feature that reduces the distracting elements.
How does it work?
Technically it’s nothing less and nothing more than typical sequencer. There are 32 holes to place the wooden discs. Each line is for different instrument and columns are responsible for the timeline. You can create music by placing wooden disks in prepared holes on table. Unique for this project is the way it read the values. The reflective IR sensors use the grayscale color reflection to play specified sample. Theoretically it can read the full gradient but there were problems with non constant background light. At the bottom of discs there are different colors so rotating the disc changes the sound.
How long did it take to make it real?
It took a month to create the project and a few weeks before as other course activities including research. We spent most of the time on connecting cables for each sensor. Making the table was easy thanks to CNC router available at our university.
How did you build it?
The core of our project is Arduino Uno and MP3 shield (with pre-rendered audio samples). IR reflective sensors that read values (and sequence) are connected via multiplexers. The timeline preview is made of LEDs that blink through the wood. For table and wooden discs we used CNC router and drill machine. The table is standalone project so it has build-in speakers.