Homemade Hardware Midterm – Creating an SMB

For our Homemade Hardware midterm, we are designing and creating our own surface-mounted boards. I’m going to combine this midterm with my Playful Communication in Serious Research class. For our PCSR class, we are designing a museum exhibit demonstrating how rhythms help us process sound. We are basing this exhibit off the research of NYU Ph.D candidate Keith Doelling. His research focuses on how the synchronicity of brain waves help us comprehend sound inputs.

In his research, he compares the oscillations of brain waves to drumming. If drums were the only way in which humans could communicate, they could drum randomly but they would not be able to understand each other. Only when they coordinate their drumming and synchronize can they spread a message to one another and possibly farther. The neurons that fire in a brain work in a similar fashion, and this phenomenon of synchronicity is how our brain comprehends sounds like speech and music.

For one of our exhibits, we want to create a participatory experience, where people see the sound data of spoken speech. Three pads will sit in front of this screen, and viewers will have to drum the rhythm of this speech in order to hear comprehensible speech. If they drum off-rhythm, the participants will only hear static. Here’s a quick sketch:

Here’s a higher-fidelity sketch, along with the different sensors I will use.

For this exhibit, I will create an SMB board that hooks up three Piezo sensors to a bluetooth chip and send that data to a Mac Mini to project the data to a wall. I could use some feedback on which chip is easier to install and more stable.