Ocean | Room-scale VR art installation for public spaces
August 30, 2017

Sono Fluo

An interactive, audiovisual, sensor-based installation developed for The Danish Music Museum.
Consists of novel, tangible user interfaces allowing novices to collaborate in exploring sound through movement.

Designed & developed with
Jonas Fehr, Nicholas John Kirwan, Henrique Figueira and Theis Boisen Hansen.

Exhibited at Roskilde Festival, 3.July 2014.

Presented at Interaction Design and Children (IDC) Conference
in Aarhus, Denmark, 17-20th June, 2014.

Published in "Proceedings of the 2014 conference on
Interaction Design and Children" (pp.197-200).

ROLES: Research and concept development, concept art, UX design, user testing.

The Danish Music Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, needed a new sound installation after the museum underwent renovations in 2013. The audiovisual installation Sono Fluo was designed to allow the guests of the museum to explore manipulating sounds via interaction.
INTUITIVE INSTALLATION FOR PUBLIC SPACES: Museums are public spaces with a constant flow of people, where casual use of exhibitions is to be expected, as users have limited time and attention. Sono Fluo was designed to be simple and intuitive enough to be understood and used by anyone in a short amount of time. Accommodating all guests of The Danish Music Museum regardless of age or prior experience with music.
The design was based on the concept of a tree with branches holding abstract, interactive "fruits". Moving the fruits in space generates sound and visual feedback to the user.
The abstract "fruit" interfaces are mounted on branches and can move freely in space on 2 axes: up-down and left-right. Moving them allows users to manipulate preexisting sounds contained in the installation, and to get visual feedback through colored lights. Sono Fluo can sense acceleration and movement orientation, allowing gestures to be slow or fast and the sounds and visuals will respond accordingly.
The museum is a social space and the experience of playing together should be welcoming to everyone, even musical novices. The tree-shaped design of Sono Fluo allows several users to play with the installation at the same time. The inclusion of several identical interfaces for multiple users makes it possible to quickly comprehend what others are doing, thereby shifting focus from the single interface to collaboration.
Abstract interfaces free from previous musical associations awaken curiosity and avoid causing intimidation in users without previous musical experience in soundmaking.
The first prototypes for the interactive "fruit" interfaces consisted of a laser-cut dodecahedron and icosahedron shapes mounted on bendable branches. Qualitative user tests performed at Aalborg University, as well as with children at a local school, proved to have the desired effect on musical novices as well as musicians.
Polyhedral shapes can be unfolded into two-dimensional planes and polyhedral nets enable translating the single-plane, laser-cut shape into a solid, geometric model. Rapid prototyping over several iterations in cardboard and, finally, hardboard, revealed the structural robustness of the icosahedron to be superior to the dodecahedron.
The icosahedron contains an embedded processing system detecting movement orientation. The electronic components within the hardboard shell include an inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor, a small speaker, an amplifier, a Raspberry Pi, circuit board and LED chain. The icosahedron is mounted on a bendable "branch", to allow for movement calculation in 2 axes: left-right and up-down. The branches are made of installation tubes for electrical wiring, containing the ethernet cable.
Several sound sources in a small space could risk making noise in the museum, and the sounds of Sono Fluo are designed to fit together. Gestural input is mapped to sounds in the software Pure Data and affects timbre and tone, volume, playback speed or density of notes. It is also possible to customize or completely change the sounds of the installation for other contexts.