Barcode Piano

Barcode Piano is a musical instrument and a toy for children to explore and understand the essential principles behind barcodes. Barcodes are unique information holders that can be used to identify entities such as mail, products or patients by reading the unique information embedded in the barcode’s numbers and lines.

Barcode Piano invites children to explore the concept of barcodes through a tangible interface consisting of a board, bricks, a button and sounds inspired by the piano as a metaphor. By combining the different barcode bricks, children can copy barcodes and listen to their unique tunes. Each brick will play a unique tone creating new tunes every time a complete barcode is put into place on the Barcode Piano.

The overall idea was to convey the fact that barcodes are unique through creating a tangible and sensuous experience with sound as output. While being a low cost technology, barcodes can contain complex amounts of information depending on the context of use. Thus, we chose from an early stage to focus on the core principles of barcodes.

Built on the Arduino platform, Barcode Piano uses simple and low cost technologies. Each brick contains a different resistor that makes it possible to distinguish it from the rest of the bricks. When a brick is placed on the Barcode Piano it completes a circuit enabling the Arduino to read which resistor/brick is being placed and to provide the accordingly sound output.