Visual Bells

Visual Bells is an exploration of using electronics to convert audio music into visual feedback. This allows hearing impaired persons to also enjoy music through their visual sense.

A toy xylophone and its mallet was wired to an electrical circuit made up of LEDs and copper tape. Through a conductive surface of copper tape on both the xylophone and mallet, the circuit closes each time the mallet struck the xylophone panel. When the circuit was closed, LEDs lit up two paper drawings: one corresponding to a musical scale, another of a smiling snowman.

The team adopted an agile experimental approach to building the prototype. First, the team tested different conductive materials (e.g., carbon paint, copper wire, conductive thread and fabric tape) when deciding on the best way to create a conductive surface on the xylophone and mallet. It was discovered that a small strip of copper tape gave the most reliable conductivity while preserving the sound of the xylophone. To test the concept further, the team built a small complete circuit, using two xylophone panels and the mallet. The team built the fuller prototype only after the small complete circuit worked.