Danne Woo
Stefanie Kleinman

RFID Beat Box

Create and play your own music using RFID tags!


Introduction to Physical Computing

We built an instrument that allows a user to create and play music by placing RFID tags into wooden bowls. The tags, designed as vinyl record discs, are labeled by color and each tag/disc activates a unique sound. The top of the instrument has four wooden bowls, each labelled by color to indicate a certain instrument/musical type. The user can place the tags/discs into the bowls to layer and experiment with the different musical options. We also incorporated colored LEDs that blink to the music.

For this project, we experimented with various ways of using Processing, RFID technology, and an Arduino to create an interactive musical experience. We worked with LEDs, photocell sensors, and RFID tags/readers and also used the CNC machine and laser cutter to construct the materials for our project. We exported the audio files from Garage Band.

We would like our instrument to be easy to play and fun for everybody. Our target audience would include people who enjoy experimenting with sound, media, and games. The instrument is entertaining and easy to use. We intentionally included a wide variety of sounds to encourage users with different musical tastes to play the instrument.

User Scenario
The top of the instrument has four bowls. Each of the 4 bowls corresponds with a particular instrument/sound (drums, guitar, bass, synth/electronic). Under each bowl there is a slat containing 6 vinyl discs. Each vinyl disc is programmed to play a unique beat/instrument loop. As the user places the discs in the bowls they activate the music and the music begins to play.

The instrument is made of wood and plexi-glass. We used the laser cutter to cut the plexi-glass into several pieces which we used to construct the bottom of the box. Then, we used the CNC machine to carve the bowls directly into the wood we used for the top of the instrument/box.
We also used the CNC machine to cut out the small vinyl discs that are used to activate the music. We identified the discs by color and glued the RFID tags inside the little vinyl record discs.

We definitely improved our programming and coding skills while working on this project in order to make sure that the audio was activated using the RFID tags and deactivated depending on the photosensors. I also was able to learn how to work with the CNC machine, as we used it to make the vinyl discs and to carve the wooden piece of the instrument. Danne and I both learned a lot about the design process and tried to design the instrument in a way that would be interesting, unique, and engaging for users.