By Anne-Marie Lavigne and Sarah Rothberg
Sample track by Yotam Mann
The physical equalizer is a midi volume fader made from 6 fabric flex sensors and 20 wooden cubes. In this application, each sensor is linked to a track on Ableton Live through MAX/MSP. Placing a cube of wood on the base of the controller activates a corresponding track. The cubes are stackable, and the more cubes there are on a sensor, the louder the volume of that track. This device can be played as a music instrument, as a live performance tool, a mixing device for engineers. It can be experienced through speakers for a public performance or headphones for a individual experience.
Interactivity is a mix of gestures and interfaces. We wanted to create a device that puts the emphasis on the gesture, not on the technology. How can we put the user into a special and unique creative mode? How can we build a tool that invites the user to be spontaneous and engaged? We aimed to create a simple, recognizable interface using materials that encourage child-like play.
Our main research was on soft fabric sensors. We discovered and learned how to make them and which fabric is best for the device. We have built our own sensors and created a template that can be shared.
The target audience is diverse. Any adult or child can play or perform. Musicians can use it as a performance tool, as it acts as a visualization of what is happening on a computer. Sound engineers can use it as a mixing device.
The user is invited to play with wooden cubes to manipulate the volume of a track, or turn that track on and off, using it as a musical instrument. Using the cubes to increase or decrease the volume of a specific track allows the user to visualize the music. The cubes are made of wood and are reminiscent of toy construction blocks, encouraging users to build and play. to put the user into a playing mode. The wooden interface puts the emphasis on the gestures of the user, not on the technology.
The physical equalizer is made of a rectangular platform with 6 soft fabric flex sensors and 20 wooden cubes. Each sensor is linked to a music track on Ableton Live. The user stacks the cubes on the sensors to activate the music tracks. The more cubes there are on a sensor, the louder the volume of the track.
We learned how to conceptualize and build a simple user interface that can have multiple uses and purposes. Making simple and clear interfaces is a complex task. We think we succeeded creating a full and entertaining interactive experience with the physical equalizer.