Research, Product & Service Design

An interactive music visualizer powered by Arduino and Leap Motion

Ghost Cubes is an interactive piece that explores the concept of applying physical objects to visualize music through color/shape movements and using the body as the controller without touching any buttons or knobs. The project adapts leap motion, p5.js, and Arduino.​​​​​​​

My Role

Design, Prototype, Development


3 Weeks

Team (3)

You Zhang, Xiaofang Fan, Jinpei Wei, Bowen Shen

00 — Inspiration

Can we visualize music through a physical form?

Launchpads and MPCs are common music controllers, which have color LED buttons placed in a cubic grid. 

What if we use such a cubic form to visualize the music instead of controlling? To work around this idea, we did some research and came across the idea of using Japanese origami ghost cube to be the core mechanical structure because of its flexibility and Leap Motion as the technology choice to support touchless interaction.​​​​​​​

01 — Steps of Interaction

To design the interaction, we first separate the inputs and outputs

Inputs: Leap motion provides some gesture readings such as the hand height, hand rotation, finger distance. It also distinguishes the difference between the right hand and the left hand.

Outputs: Adafruit NeoPixel LED strips, an Arduino servo motor, and music.

02 — Iteration

Start with small scale, and iterate

After making the smaller scale model of the cubes, we understood the mechanical structure better. Thus, we were able to sketch out the whole object to combine the cubes and electronics. To diffuse the LED light, we used tracing paper to create the cubes.

03 — Technology Break Down

What technology we could use to achieve the desired result

We used an Arduino powered servo that rotates 180 degrees and the neopixel LED stripe for the physical outputs

Using the filter() function from p5.js, we mapped the hand rotation and height values as sound volume and frequency to create filters that change the music while playing. The output turned out pretty well without much tuning.​​​​​​​

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