Tangible Rhythm

The human sense of touch is a silent, and often invisible, language between the brain and a person’s surrounding environment. When it’s coupled with technology and sound, to create an immersive haptic experience, the potential for a new dimension of communication between people emerges. Whether people are separated by small or great distances, or even separated by disabilities preventing them from sharing a physical and emotional connection, there’s an opportunity to empower them to create a new language together.

Working with this inspiration, we prototyped a conceptual experience for tangible communication that motivates two people to find a connection using their sense of touch and sound, rather than sight. It’s an abstract thing to describe, but can be paralleled to the intimate synchronicity between two musicians playing music together side by side or two dancers sharing subtle cues of the next movement they’ll share. Both examples share a common trait of rhythm.

The prototype is constructed of two sliders, lots of code, two piezo-transducers, and a circuit board that connects them all together and runs the code.

As the players’ movements fall out of sync, each person feels a subtle resistance in the slider that eventually increases to a vibration under their wrist. Gain and frequency modulation, heard from the piezo-transducers, also change as a result of the users’ movements and synchronicity. Together the resistance and sound creates immersive feedback that guides users to create their own beat that can be both felt and heard.