Tangible Interface: Audio Speaker
Task: For this project, my students were commissioned to create a functioning artifact with a physical, tangible interface that could control the operation of the device.
Teaching Focus: The objective of this exercise was to explore how tangible interaction, or the study of intuitive, physical interfaces could intertwine with material exploration in the form of a functional audio speaker. This interest was influenced by my grad studies in Denmark where my research interest lied in tangible interaction. It could be said that the main challenge that faced the team was how to create an intuitive, functional audio that would also be visually appealing and treat materials honestly.
In terms of materials, wood turned out to be a practical materials. The base, constructed of a leather fabric stretched over a wooden frame acted as an effective sound chamber. The students were also concerned with the honest treatment of material as the minimalist aesthetic demands. In order to retain the patina of wood, while adding variation, the team used consecutively darker stains in the central removable panels to create a gradient. My only concern or reservation was in the application of the leather material. The material was not used structurally but instead as an applique over the wooden base.
Above: As seen in this illustration, the team designed and fabricated a audio speaker that mimicked a wavelength aesthetically and in function. By pulling out individual panels, the user can alter the quality of sound, much like a tangible graphic equalizer.
Above: Rendering showing material details of the speaker. The further enhance the wave-form, the students applied stain to the wood in a gradient fashion, with the darker tones in the middle.
Above: Material research poster showing inspiration, exploded assembly, interaction qualities and use of context.