Project01: iVolume — a volume-controlled RPi Radio

Assignment,Project01 — pvirasat @ 11:21 pm

iVolume is a device that allows you to listen to your favorite radio station on Pandora, where the volume of the music is controlled based on how loud or quiet the surrounding environment is. As someone who loves listening to music on Pandora, I thought this would be an interesting way to use the input from the microphone, and a productive way to get my hands dirty with the Raspberry Pi.





The video above has illustrated the basic working of the device. The electret microphone amplifier senses the crowd noise, where the data is interpreted and sent to the Raspberry Pi through Serial communication. Pianobar, an open-source, console-based client for Pandora, comes with many features including playing, managing, and rating stations. For this project, I used the input data to manipulate the volume of the music. In the video, I plugged in a set of speakers to the Raspberry Pi to illustrate how the device works. However, a more ideal setting would be to use headphones instead because the microphone will take in the loud sound from the speakers, which will eventually make the volume go up and never come down.

Even though there are quite a number of tutorials for Pianobar + Raspberry Pi, I learned a lot working on this project. This includes figuring out how to manually install the libraries onto the Raspberry Pi, working in terminal, sending data from an Arduino to a RPi, and coding in Python. Looking forward, I plan to create a more durable and portable prototype, and possibly mix in other types of inputs to manage the different stations.


Live Time Lapse Prototype

Project01 — jk @ 5:49 am

I am prototyping a time lapse camera and real time video feed.

I am interested in the implications of showing these real time videos in proximity to the place photographed.

I am particularly interested pursuing further prototypes with the phenomena at CMU known as the fence.

The fence is already a stage for CMU students to perform their organization in front of the school. I am interested both in capturing these performance over an entire year. I am most interested in the possibility of cultural or social feedback between the fence and the timelapse video feed. How might these photographs and video be controlled the way Jimi Hendrix controlled the feedback of his guitar?

To make this prototype I have made extensive use of the many Raspberry Pi time lapse builds out there.

These include:


Assignment,Project01,Submission — priyaganadas @ 12:47 am

SILO from Priya Ganadas on Vimeo.

SILO is a silent tracker which senses people walking by.

Goal– The idea of the project is to make people realize life beyond their own bubble, by grabbing their attention while they do a routine act such as walking from one building to another. SILO gets activated by footsteps and prints out messages that can be related to any situation. These messages add serendipity to everyday life. Little creatures hide inside SILO and appear to see the person who activated them. They go back in once SILO is finished giving out the message.




Technology– SILO has a thermal printer that prints out messages, Piezo sensor to detect footsteps, LEDs, Arduino, Speaker phone and Servo to activate the little creatures.


Assignment,Project01 — Dan Russo @ 5:02 am
[vimeo 105531168 w=500&h=280]

Breathe was created to explore the dialog between people and their built environment.  The installation gives walls the ability to subtly communicate through the mimicked act of respiration.  The respiration creates an active dialog that changes with the character of the space. Breathe samples ambient sound levels and bases it’s rate of respiration on this data. High ambient sound levels lead to anxious tendencies of the wall panel, thus reflecting the living energy of a space.




Engage: Put Down Your Phone, Pick Up Conversation

Assignment,Project01,Submission — tdoyle @ 1:03 am

Without noticing, we interact with our phones all the time. Whether it’s a tweet mention, a text message, emails, or an app notification, we are constantly stepping out of the real world and into the digital world. In doing so, sometimes we lose meaningful interactions that we could have with the people that are actually around us. We see this in situations such as dinner where everyone pulls out their phone to fill time instead of sparking conversation. My goal was to create a device that encouraged us to unplug and engage with actual people instead of tweeting the day away.


The Floor has a Voice

Assignment,Hardware,Project01,Software — Tags: — John Mars @ 12:58 am

I often find myself humming some made-up tune to the gentle whir of a room’s machinery in the background of my consciousness. What would happen if that whir became more pronounced, and the room started singing its own tune?

To accomplish this, I must do a few things:

1. Pick up the noise in a room with a microphone (the kind of which is undetermined)
2. Analyze the sound to determine the room’s base frequency. Continue analyzing that sound to determine if/when that frequency changes.
3. Create a never-ending tune from based upon the base frequency.
4. Send that tune into the room as unobtrusively as possible, to make it seem like the room itself is singing.


1. Pick up the noise in a room with a microphone (the kind of which is undetermined)

An [electret mic]( is my microphone of choice in this case. The one I’m using from [Adafruit]( is pretty good, and very easy to use. Sound has always been this mystical, mysterious thing, but over the past year or so, it’s all coming together – and it’s all a lot simpler than I was expecting.

2. Analyze the sound to determine the room’s base frequency. Continue analyzing that sound to determine if/when that frequency changes.

An FFT algorithm helps compute the amplitude of all frequencies of sound wave getting picked up by the microphone. The one I’m using splits the audible range into 64 bins of 75hz ranges each.

3. Create a never-ending tune from based upon the base frequency.

Via [OSC]( I can send the FFT-derived base-frequency to a Raspberry Pi running [Pd-extended]( With PD, tone generation is as simple as connecting a few nodes, and song generation is just a little bit more complicated than that.

A series of specific whole-number ratios multiplied by a frequency result in natural harmonies: for example, the base-frequency times five-fourths results in a Major Third above the base; fifteen-eights is a Major Seventh.

Using this knowledge in combination with a basic chord progression and a little randomness, I can create a never-ending song that perpetually realigns itself to the incoming frequency.

4. Send that tune into the room as unobtrusively as possible, to make it seem like the room itself is singing.

There isn’t much to show here, and that’s kind of the whole point. I’ve embedded my system into the ventilation vents in the floor below. A [surface transducer]( (speaker without a cone) transfers the amplified music to highly reverberant metal air ducts.



Project 1 – The Bird AntiFeeder

Project01,Uncategorized — alanhp @ 11:43 pm

2014-09-07 22.07.22

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2014-09-07 22.10.07

The bird antifeeder is a high-tech system that prevents birds from eating your food. You can see the above video for a demo of the system in action… The high-tech part is not true though, actually the bird antifeeder is a playful work that resulted from a combination of a short timeframe, a limited availability of resources (laser cutters on campus) and a need to quickly familiarize myself with a technology (piezo contact microphones).

I started the project knowing only that I had to sense something using a microphone and that I had to respond to what I sensed in some non-screen based way. Initially I wanted to sense ants walking on a surface and using this information I wanted to send a notification or give some kind of signal for people to become aware of ants walking on a surface which in itself is interesting because it is something we are rarely paying attention to. This was inspired by the much better and thoughtful projects by Prof. Ali Momeni. Again, because of the short timeline, for me this project was much more focused on learning how to sense using a contact microphone than it was about developing a strong concept.

Quickly, it became evident that sensing the walk of ants would be quite challenging with the technology I had, particularly because of the limited strength of the vibrations generated by ants walking which I intended to sense with the contact microphone. Despite having found a metallic material with nice vibrating properties, the task was out of the scope of the project because of how much more thought and testing would have been necessary.

With this information, I re-scoped the project to a much more manageable objective: to sense the vibrations generated by birds landing on a surface and to respond to this vibration in some way. This decision was taken after talking with Jake on the weekend before the due date for the project. After figuring out the amplitude sensing thresholds and getting a servo motor working, I set on to build an encasing in which all the components could be placed. The laser cutters around campus where all booked and the project was due the day after which is when I had to go back to the famous “its better done than perfect” which I agree sometimes with.

My arts and crafts skills are not super great though so as I continued to make my project’s box, it looked more and more like a ten year old had made it. With little time remaining and the idea that I wanted the project to feel like a unified and deliberate work, I embraced the child-like aesthetic all the way and decorated the project so that it looked like a cool addition to a kid’s treehouse.

That is the story of the bird antifeeder, a high-tech system to scare away the birds who want to eat your food. Lessons learned, sometimes it is indeed better done than perfect, humor is always good, follow intuition sometimes, if you can’t get what you need figure out how to make it work with what you got, keep in mind the scope of each project.

puts down mic…


NOTE: images are HD but for some reason not displaying as such. Click on each to see high-res.

Smartphone EMF Detection

Assignment,Hardware,Project01,Software — Tags: , , — epicjefferson @ 10:36 pm

Project01 Precedent Studies

Precedent Analysis,Project01,Uncategorized — Dan Russo @ 5:38 am


Date: July 2014

Project: Light House

Creator: SOFTlab

The purpose of this installation was to respond to real time sound input from equipment and live performances.  It was the intention of  SOFTlab to create an environment which visually displayed characteristics of music being played at SONOS.  This project engages music in a very unique way that goes beyond a visualizer.  The complexity of the patterns made by the lights and the depth of input make the installation very responsive.  The complexity of the display, and how it physically relates to the sound itself is great aspect to further investigate and think about going forward.



Date: 2012 

Project: VERSUS.

Creator: David Letellier

The purpose of this installation was to explore sound as a constantly evolving system.  The artist wanted to create a space that started with one sound, but built the ambient sound of the space on top of each subsequent recording.  One side will record the other, and then play it back for the opposing side.  This creates an ever evolving loop that includes all active participants and the space itself.  The idea that the character of a space can be displayed and collected in a compressed auditory manner is very intriguing.  The idea of creating opposing components that build on each other makes it a valuable piece to study.




Date: August 2011

Project: Interactive Robot Painting Machine

Creator: Benjamin Grosser


This piece of interactive art turns sound into a visual painting.  It was the intention of the artist to expand the boundary of interaction between music and visual art.  This project uses genetic algorithms to process audio data into a painting style.  This style becomes a evolving guideline for the image output.  The robotic system uses a controlled paint brush on canvas to generate the visuals.  This project displays a very unique way of processing audio input into a framework of guidelines.  Studying this project may be helpful to clearly define a relationship between an input and output.

Precedent Analysis

Knock Knock
Khalil Klouche
Project Link

Knock Knock @ HEAD media design from Khalil Klouche on Vimeo.

In this project, the creator aimed to create a product for children that would help them learn math, through interacting with the piece of wood through knocking. The project uses an Arduino board, contact microphones, solenoids, and some wood materials.  I find this project interesting from a UX perspective, as I do not immediately understand how it works. I would be interested to see if a child could pick it up and use it without any instructions. This project has a good, clean, stable video to show how it works, and this is something to learn from in the future. I could also learn about the knocks and how solenoids work. The creator could have explicitly stated how the device works in terms of how you should knock to produce a certain answer.


Shanshan Zhou, Adam Ben-Dror and Joss Doggett
Project Link

Pinokio from adambd on Vimeo.

In this project, the creator aimed to create a lamp that seems like it has human-like playful qualities, somewhat akin to the Pixar Lamp.  hacked webcam, microphone, mechanical iris, 2 servos and halogen globe. A lot of the components were laser-cut.  I find this project interesting, as I am guessing that some machine learning was needed for the facial recognition aspect of the project, and I might need to incorporate some machine learning for my final project in the class. I think it is very interesting that the project takes an otherwise inanimate, everyday object, and makes it have personality. Although this may seem intrusive, this technique could be used to convey useful information in a way that is less obtrusive than adding another product to someones life.  I would have been interested to know what, if any, practical applications the creators saw for their product.


So..I was at a party last night
Sabrina Mahfouz
Project Link

So.. I was at a party last night from Andrea Cuius on Vimeo.

In this project, the creator aimed to create a luminary experience for a performance that allows the audience to further immerse themselves into the show. The project uses tungsten lamps, a microphone to record the audio, and a program to process the music.  I find this project interesting because it is completely unobtrusive. From the video, it looks like the light seamlessly flows with the music, and that it enhances the experience that the user is already there to have. Using a microphone to enhance an already existing experience could be something to learn from for project 1. One thing the creator could have done better is to show more of how the lights were incorporated into the show, rather than just clips of the lights.


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