Christie Leece
Kate Tibbetts
Robbie Tilton


Altar is an evocative music controller powered by candlelight.

Introduction to Physical Computing

Music is a very powerful medium that many people use as a spiritual beacon that helps to guide, motivate, relax, and feel something greater than oneself. For such a powerful form of media we often see very bland modes to control it (mp3 players, home stereo systems, etc.), but why not give this medium the altar it deserves? In response to this question, Robbie Tilton, Christie Leece and Katie Tibbetts created a physical computing piece called The Altar. The Altar uses candle light to play and adjust an audio composition that is meant to embrace the power of music. The piece was made with 17 photo cells, 1 Arduino Mega, and a whole lot of love. The tops of each tier is laser cut (totaling 6 hours to engrave the entire piece). As we continue to improve the piece, we hope to place this in a public space (such as a church), to allow more guests outside the NYU ITP community to enjoy it.

User Scenario
A user would approach the altar and light a candle. If they are the first to light a candle, they will hear a piece of music begin. As subsequent candles are lit by this user or the next user, the music grows. Different tracks are controlled by the different tiers, creating a layered music effect.