Project type: University assignment
Duration: 1 Semester
Team size: 3 Persons
Technology: Arduino, Sensors, Native Instruments Maschine
My tasks: Programming, Game System Design, Sound Design
„SoundSquid“ is an analog music toy based on Arduino which lets you create sounds with your friends in a playful way. Six different modules are equipped with different sensors an can produce unique soundscapes, melodies, and effects. You’ll need no musical knowledge at all, just unfold your creativity and try to interact with the modules in different ways. They can be shaken, turned or touched to produce sounds or manipulate them.
For this university project, we had a whole semester and the assignment was to create a „Digital Toy“. We used the first weeks to study different kinds of toys and explored how we could combine them with a digital twist. We planned to use either Arduino or raspberry pi for the technical part depending on the complexity of our concept. After visiting a couple of toy stores and analyzing the inventory our approach was to create music toy which can be used as a group experience. We preferred exploring and an intuitive interaction over a toy with strict rules and a determinate order of events. In parallel, we started with the technical part and researched different sensors we could implement. After we build some prototypes and figured out how they work we finished the concept and decided to create six modules which served as instruments connected with an Arduino board. Some had continues rhythms and melodies some served as one shot sound effects. We had to ensure that „SoundSquid“ offers fun, even when you’re playing alone. Besides touching the sensors for triggering different notes they could recognize orientation, distance, light, vibration, and pressure. Important for the overall sound was the synchronization. We managed that difficulty by muting the different looping audio tracks instead of stopping them. In consequence to that, every played note is at the right position what makes the music a lot more enjoyable. The modules were 3D-printed and glued together to hide the electronics inside.
After our ideation, where we were all equally involved, I started with teaching me python to be able to program on Raspberry Pi. After I knew the basics I bought some sensors and built prototypes for a better understanding. Therefore I had to learn some basics about electronics and circuits because the sensors had to be soldered manually. After the prototyping phase, I decided to take care of the sound design. I used the sound library of Native Instruments Maschine and composed different melodies using different synthesizers. My goal was to create an atmosphere where every single sound blends together very well. On top, the sounds should fit the type of interaction with the module.