Crafting the Design
We all took on the technical challenges together although once things got going, we divided up the work and I began to really hone in on the design of the instrument itself. As the product designer on the team, I got to take on the responsibility of building out the frame of the instrument. I constructed the neck and body out of sheets of cardboard. Considering our audience, we wanted TouchTone to look playful and almost childish! With this in mind, we chose to use primary colors and covered the entire instrument in red glitter tape just to give it an extra touch. We wanted people to pick this up and feel comfortable with it as if it were like picking up a toy.
A key design decision was choosing to have the body be semitransparent. People like to see the technology behind how something works. What is it that makes the sound? How is this all connected?
During the demo, many users peeked inside to check out the Arduino and figure out for themselves how we were able to build the instrument. The overall design was eye-catching and could be seen from across the room easily. You could tell people wanted to hold it in their hands and experiment. Everyone loved it! The red tape and plastic film definitely made it a huge success.
Functional and Unique
Our team put together one of the only projects that was actually functional by the end of the competition. Unfortunately, a couple other teams ran into technical difficulties that they were not able to get around. By the demo time, many of the end results did not work the way they had imagined. Our idea was also different than most because we had successfully crafted the entire instrument from scratch whereas another team, for example, hacked theirs together using parts of an existing electric guitar.
We surprised the judges by doing more than what was asked of us for the competition. Our instrument could control the lighting and visuals in a space in addition to making sound.
Each sensor of the potentiometers output to its own MIDI channel. Users can freely manipulate the sounds that are played aloud by choosing different instruments. Hand gestures done over the Leap Motion modulates sound effects and visual animations.