IDEOgraph: a record player to draw physical space flows

During his Fortnight internship,  designed and crafted IDEOgraph – a machine that captures the energy and flow of IDEO Chicago physical office space. The device is basically a record player made by:

  • two stepper motors to run the turntable and arm – the arm is used to draw on a disc or to cut it so to produce a tangible representation of the flow it captures
  • a servo mounted on the back side of the arm to lower and raise it;
  • a PIR motion sensor mounted over the counter in the kitchen to collect data and send it to an Arduino.

Code, diagrams and vector files necessary to make your own IDEOgraph are available here and on GitHub.

Find out more on IDEO Labs.

Moon Phases by Yingjie Bei and Yifan Hu: Arduino powered moon phase turntable

Moon Phases is an interactive device – created by Yingjie Bei and  Yifan Hu – that shows the moon phase for a given date as per user input. The device relies on Processing and Arduino to calculate the moon phase and then moving servo motors to posit the light accordingly. From the official project page:

The idea started from my very first processing sketch which is a 2D drawing for moon phases. From there, I started to expand and approach it from different perspective. The moon phases machine is the ultimate work through out the whole journey. It allows the audience to experience the moon phases’ changing in a tangible and poetic way. At the same time, it is also an educational piecing to learn about not only the moon phases from the past but also for the future.

On Yingjie Bei personal blog you can find more details on the project – including the original sketches and researches.

Continue reading…

XOXX Composer: mechanical drum machine by Axel Bluhme

XOXX Composer is a very special project. Axel Bluhme – its creator – wanted to show the hidden “engine” of classic drum machines by creating a ” […] tangible, kinetic, sculptural form. Wheels turn. Magnets trigger sounds. And in what looks like the love child of a 606 and a player piano, you get a mechanical take on patterned sound”. The XOXX will be presented at Ugly Duck in Bermondsey (London) in May, as part of a collaboration between Sonos and the Royal College of Art.

Here the project description from Vimeo:

Can you design a drum machine that does more than simply hide its workings inside an invisible box? XOXX Composer turns the inner functions of sampling, looping, and sequencing, into tangible, kinetic, sculptural form. Wheels turn. Magnets trigger sounds. The result is a mechanical take on patterned sound.

This project started with a curiosity to understand when and why people take their first steps into producing music and how we relate to rhythmic composition and construction in an electronic environment.

The goal is to inspire and allow exploration even though there might be lack of confidence or knowledge. Capture sounds from your surroundings or sample records, simply let curiosity and creativity lead the way to quickly create unique beats.

The physical interface is made up from eight rotating discs allowing the user to layer up to eight different sounds. Each set of eight discs are colour coded and each individual disc in the set has its own pattern so as to allow the user to create their own mental system and means of organising their sounds.

Every disc is quantised into four bars, which is indicated by the coloured lines on their faces, and each bar is divided into four steps. That means every disc has sixteen steps which allows the user to explore a variety of different music styles and degrees of complexity.

Retrieved from CreateDigitalMusic.

Find out more on Axel Bluhme on his website.



Grasp by Akarsh sanghi: a mentor on your shoulders

Grasp by Akarsh Sanghi: a mentor on your shoulders

Designed by Akarsh Sanghi, Grasp is a wearable device to place on your shoulders to connect with your mentors while practising. As described on the official project page:

Learning new skills which are more physical and instructional in nature has always been limited by the constraint of a mentor and the learner being present in the same physical space. Grasp is a wearable device which attempts to overcome that constraint by connecting the mentor and the learner across distances. The tool provides the mentor with a real time insight into the learners environment through the coupling of a first person point of view and an instructional laser pointer. Therefore, the mentor can communicate to the person learning via the device and instruct using the laser pointer. It is the idea of having a companion looking over your shoulder and instructing you while learning something new irrespective of distance.


Designing games for wearable devices

In this case study published by Ludomade, authors explore the limitations and constraints of designing games for small wearable devices – i.e. the Apple Watch. Below are some takeaways from the development process of  Mineshaft: Dynamite Blast (Ludomade, 2014) – guidelines you’ll find valuable to design interactions beyond the realm of games:

Game concept

  • Think about how it’s going to feel playing a game that’s strapped to your wrist: holding your arm up in strange ways gets tiresome quickly, so keep play sessions short.
  • Minimize the player inputs – simplify everything.

Touch interactions

  • On a 280×280 screen, space fills up really quick, so consider as few on-screen buttons as possible.
  • When buttons are necessary, think about their placement based on which wrist the watch is on. You don’t want players to cover everything up whenever they need to jump.

Graphic design on small size screen

  • Texture-packed realism isn’t going to work on such a small screen. Choose a graphical style and color palette that maximizes definition at this size.

The role of the form factor

  • Consider square and circle screens when designing UI, keep those buttons out of the corners.
  • Minimize the amount of UI needed – the small screen gets cluttered quickly.
  • You must remove the default “swipe right to close app” function.


  • There’s no audio on most watches so use audio as an accessory.

Check the final game on Android Wears and iOS (smartphone/tablet).

Article originally seen on Dotventi.