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Topic: Make a interactive sound wall (Read 2910 times) previous topic - next topic


Feb 05, 2013, 05:42 pm Last Edit: Feb 05, 2013, 05:43 pm by Arthuro Reason: 1
Hello there,

I recently started a project involving the disease Alzheimer and interior architecture/interactive space. I study spatial design in Amsterdam at the Gerrit Rietveld Art Academy.

I would like to create an interactive wall on which it is possible to play music just by touching the surface of the wall for example. Arduino seems to be the right thing, connected to processing. I also need a sensor to register vibrations created on the wall surface, further translate those registered vibrations into a sound that I have specifically chosen. The DAW used would be ABLETONLIVE for instance. I was wondering which exact arduino hardware component would be necessary for my project and also maybe if someone has some sort of experience already with a similar kind of project/idea. I contacted a company called IcubeX which seem to offer sensors capable of registering this sort of movements and further capable of translating this sort of information into a sound being played.
If anyone has any ideas, helpful advice it would be immensely appreciated and even mentioned in my presentations at university.

the wall itself can be any wall. Even a table. It's just about a surface that can register tiny vibrations when scratching it with your nail or even just touching it with the palm of my hand.

Hope to hear from anyone soon,


Arthur Hortolomei

P.S. The drawing I made shows the idea, maybe this can be of help.


Feb 06, 2013, 01:32 am Last Edit: Feb 06, 2013, 01:37 am by Krodal Reason: 1
To see what kind of sensors work well with the Arduino, look at these sites:

That IcubeX seems expensive.

It would be easier if you know what you want to detect.
Scratching and knocking can be detected with a piezo element or a cheap electric mic element.
But do you want to detect the location ? and how accurate ? how many locations at the same time ?

Touching can be done with the Arduino, like the Makey Makey : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfQqh7iCcOU

A radar sensor could be used as motion detector.

I have read about an interactive sound or music wall many times. You will find some movies on youtube.


First of all thank you very much for the reply.

To be more specific I would like to be able to register both knocking and scratching. The ability to locate the movement on the wall is also important.
If it can locate multiple locations at once even better. The more precise the better as well. I got a reply from IcubeX and they offered me a device for about 20 Euros. If I now know which exact Arduino component needs to be bought I can then proceed in rounding up all these elements and actually starting my work.


This video is actually quite close to my idea but this is way more elaborate, has the visual aspect and it also incites to move much faster.

IcubeX offer me this: http://icubex.com/bang

I would use Processing, but I have literally ZERO previous knowledge about programming and such things, although I am ready to learn at least to achieve this program I am intending to do.

Basically it is about playing the sounds on the surface of the wall, measured maybe only be velocity ( strength applied when hitting or scratching the wall ) and location which determines the midi note being played. The area of the note being played is also quite important to be able to achieve the maximum amount of midi notes on one wall.

Again thank you for your help, hope that maybe other have some input as well, I really need as much help as possible on this. Also if people know good forums about PROCESSING in relation to ABLETON LIVE with Promidi and ARDUINO that would be amazing. I really need as much help on this as possible as I admit being an absolute beginner concerning programing and such things.


Arthur Hortolomei


Feb 06, 2013, 09:13 am Last Edit: Feb 06, 2013, 10:11 am by Krodal Reason: 1
That sensor is perhaps only a piezo element. You can take it from a toy or buy one for 50 cents.
Read wikipedia about contact microphone: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_microphone
After reading that article on Wikipedia, I decided to buy a PVDF transducer, seems cool.
It seems that those PVDF sensors must be shielded with copper foil, because they pick up so many noise.

The most common Arduino is the Arduino Uno : http://arduino.cc/en/Main/arduinoBoardUno
You can use it to start with and try to make it work.
If your code (called the sketch) becomes too large, you can always upgrade to a Arduino Mega 2560.
If you want a keyboard or mouse emulation you could use the Arduino Leonardo : http://arduino.cc/en/Main/arduinoBoardLeonardo

You could use the Arduino Leonardo to send keyboard codes. So you can interface with the sound software by an emulated keyboard, without 'Processing'. That way you can also test the sound software with a normal keyboard.

Using scratch and knock sensors to determine the location has been done. I have read about it, but I can't find it right now. But some extra hardware is probably needed for fast timing detection.


Again thank you for your time and help.

So should I order the Arduino Leonardo board. At this point my teacher and I decided we wanted to create the experience in such a way that a wall is divided in two equal sided and that one side plays one midi note, and the other side another midi note. Fairly simple in principle. I will order the microphone component as well. My question now is though will it be possible to register the location of the wall and then play a note, or should I just work with random positions being registered on the wall and they just trigger a random note. I think this would be the best and most simple solution. Furthermore I am wondering also if I need anything else so I can order everything at once and start working because I need it to work for end of april.

Any help from anyone would be immensely appreciated. I am even ready to pay to be honest.



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