FELT SOUND is an interactive sound installation, a game, a musical instrument. It is an experience for the different senses. The thirty colorful wooden blocs invite the user to play with. While you place, stack, and knock down the blocks you can make countless combinations of sounds. All that happens on a specifically developed felt mat with several internally embedded sensors. Each sensor generates a different set of sound scales. As you place more blocks on the sensor, more sound will be added in a harmonious way. Also the speed of the tone sequences increases by adding blocs. Like this FELT SOUND offers a wide variety of sound outputs. Depending on the users intension it is possible to generate accurate melodies as well as less controlled sound patterns or a hysterical "sound mess". The felt mat is designed to turn this banal everyday object into an unexpected sound playground for those who participate. FELT SOUND can be a platform to experience sound, tone sequences and melodies for children and musical education, as well as a tool to develop and generate music. It's very tactile physical interface allows an intuitive approach to music without barriers.
A project in collaboration with Songee Hahn.
// MAKING OF
The initial inspiration were classic wooden building blocks just like what children play with. Different sounds appear by stacking the blocs up or just put the down on the ground. The carpet developed to play on is divided into different sections equipped with sensors. First into quarters – every quarter has a different beat. Once a cube gets put or thrown down the beat gets activated through a pressure sensor. Second the carpet is divided into four concentric circles. Depending on which circle a cube gets put, the beat changes. Also depending on how many pieces get put on the ring, the pressure sensor reacts on the weight and changes the sound.
PROTOTYPING // FINDING THE RIGHT PRESSURE SENSOR
For producing different sounds by sensing the weight of blocks, the use of FSR - pressure sensors - seemed to be the best choice. We tried different kinds of FSR's in order to find the best match for our purposes. The ones off the rack, as well as a row of DIY variations. For the DYI ones the sensing values are too different from one to another, pressure sensors made with copper plates were not sensitive at all, and other ones made with Velostat (pressure sensing fabric) were really hard to make conductive. Another version covered with cotton and sewed up with conductive thread inside were a way too sensitive again.
Producing customized FSR's requires a lot of experimentation. In the process we used different materials such as conductive fabric, Velostat, aluminum foil, etc. We fabricated various types of FSRs to achieve stable sensor values and reliability. Each sensor produces four different types of sounds: xylophone, flute, violin, glockenspiel.
User testing as important part of the development of working user interaction!