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Sound Wall

The idea of the sound wall stems from participatory artwork-making using computational design tools and sensor technologies. We aim to create a multi-user platform where people find different ways to communicate with each other through their interactions with the artwork.


We envisioned a modular and decentralized facade system where individual blocks react independently to the user. We can look at this system from two perspectives:

  • Input: Motion may be captured through Kinect or proximity sensor.

  • Output: Kinetic movements of the facade, sound may be incorporated as a byproduct to the movement. A visual representation of the accumulation of the wall's movements and sound it created over time.

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1.  Material

The sound box modules may be constructed with wooden panels and motors controlling the rotating actions. The sound objects could be a stringed wooden ball or vibrating metal sheets. For the final prototype, we chose MDF panels because of the smooth surface texture and resonating sound quality. We also chose ping pong balls because of their light weight and crisp sound effects.

2. Scale

To assess the feasibility within the timeframe of the project, we chose  a 3 (row) x 8 (column) formation. However, during the electronic troubleshooting process, we changed the formation to cylindrical rather than planar to avoid interference.

Preliminary Prototype

To test out the sound quality and potential directions the modules could be placed, we performed initial tests with the materials planned. 

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Fabrication Process

1.  Parts


360 Continuous Servo Motor




Double Row 8 Pin IC Socket




Ping Pong Balls


Ultrasonic Sonar Sensor 



2. Electronic Prototype

To optimize the electronic size, we used ATTITINY 85 microcontroller to control the motor and ultrasonic sensor. Once an object or person's presence is detected, the motor is actuated for a specific period of time until it stops moving.





Production Line

To fabricate 24 modules within a limited period of time, we formulated a production system of wire wrapping and soldering and finished all the modules within a day.


We also fabricated 24  different wooden modules with contraptions for motor placement, electronic housing, and removable openings.

Digital Simulation

We used grasshopper to simulate different potentials of this facade with different lighting and sound effects.

Sound facade that outputs musical notes and light colors.

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Multiple types of tunes being triggered during multi-user participation

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Grasshopper and Kinect

Kinect captures the user's motion through the camera and simulates the sound through Grasshopper algorithm.

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While testing multiple modules synchronously, we realized that the ultrasonic sensors are causing a lot of interference amongst themselves, signals would be projected from one and bounced towards another, which becomes mistaken as human presence. In order to resolve this issue, we placed a simple filter in the arduino code in which the motor can only be triggered if the sensor receives two samples of valid data.

Voltage Drop

In order to hook up modules efficiently, I decided to daisy chain them together. However, I quickly found that there is a drastic voltage drop after the fifth module. We resolved this by connecting every four modules to the power soruce.

Final Exhibition

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The final outcome is exhibited at the Gund Hall with a series of other computation design related works.. We transported individual modules to the site and assembled them real-time.

Danning Liang | Yuto Takenaka | Selin Dursun | Youtian Duan

Intro To Computational Design

Jose Luis Garcia del Castillo Lopez

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