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.
Design, Prototype, Development
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.