Computational Design Lab

Note Cubes

The initial idea was to create a touchable and interactive experience to connect the sense of space with the sense of sound/time to aid young child to build curiosity and interest in music. Note Cubes is a toy, which is a set of high-tech interactive blocks for children to explore sound, notes and rhythms and create melodies of their own.

Like playing toy bricks, cubes can be arranged freely to form different 3D geometies. When a cube is triggered by light, it can play a note at a certain pitch and trigger their “neighbor cubes “( left or right & up & down) to play notes. Kids can create pieces of melody by explore different spatial structures of cubes.

Note Cubes from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.

Public Show for Note Cubes2 from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.

Problem/Idea

Based on my own experience and observation of young children who came to CMU struggling with learning musical instruments on weekend, I identifying the design opportunity to use technology to make the process of learning music less painful.

I came up with an idea to create a touchable and interactive experience to connect the sense of space with the sense of sound/time to aid young child to build curiosity and interest to music

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Philosophy / Inspiration

How we learn about our physical world? How we learn light? How we learn sound? How we get the basic concept of space and time?

As for me, I learned from experience. I learned from the experience of stack toy bricks and tearing them down. I learned from tapping a stainless steel plate with wooden spoon. I learn from doing, learn from trials. Once I get the rule of game, I begin to create.

Adjustable/Composable

For Pitch Cube, pitch can be adjusted via slide bar.

For Tempo Cube, speed can be adjusted via knob.

Reconfigurable

Each cube includes 3 receiving surfaces (sensor embedded) and sending surfaces (led embedded). By connecting sending and receiving surface, cubes can be arranged freely to form different 3D geometies.

The triggering path can form various logic structures such as  branch and  loop.

Educational & Playful

Through the straight forward mapping from cubes to notes, NoteCubes helps child’s cognitive development in concept of pitch and rhythm. Sweet melodies and colorful lights let kids have fun while learning.

Note Cubes copy-05

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About Tech

There is micro-controller (Trinket), photosensors, speaker and LEDs in each cubes. Each speaker can play notes when triggered by LED lights from other cubes under the control of micro-controller. The cube’s shell is made by hardboard by laser cutting.

Next Step

I intend to pursue this idea and continually develop it  including aspects such as organic shapes, soft/hard material and extension to digital visualization.

Acknowledgements
Thanks for the help of Ali Momeni, Dale Clifford, Zack Jacobson-Weaver,  Madeline Gannon and my  friends in CoDelab!

More details about this project

 

Author: Wanfang Diao
Category: Projects