Great Musical Court is a musical light entertainment installation that encourages people to collaborate with each other, within the theme of Mass Collaboration. The intention is to create a space that become a chatalyst so that they may interact with each other,
by collaborating by creating music.
In front of a large audience, users can interact by touching an external device wrapped around a pillar, which will provide auditory and visual feedback to the user. In the form of a change from a solid shell to a soft plastic surface, this change allows the product to attach to any object. At the same time, the surface that the user touches are changed from foil to pressure sensor, which provides a more interactive experience and allows for volume control. The device wrapped around the column uses a pressure sensor and LED lighting device. When the user presses the sensor on different pillars, the device will emit different sounds, and the user can play different music by pressing different pillars. Because different pillars have different audio effects, if users want to finish and play a complete music, they need to cooperate with each other and press the right pillar at the right time.
Users can create different compositions based on the different sounds and colors emitted by the different pillars. The device also allows and encourages people to work together to complete a piece of music. In this part, the team further programmed the selection of instruments and musical pieces, as well as the colorful display of peripheral LEDs. The LEDs on the pillars guide the user through the performance, and the lights located above the device are displayed in sequence, allowing the user to touch the device and play the established notes. During or after user interaction, some animated effects will be projected onto the facade of the Grand Court building to showcase the user's finished work, and one can see some animated effects being projected onto the surface of the building in front of a large audience.
The whole creation consists of six individual prototypes. Each of it is used soft transparent plastic material as the ground layer, which can rightly wrap on the pillars,
the size of this layer is 1500 * 450mm. This material is not easy to cause deformation. In the middle of each prototype is a pressure sensor,
we try to enlarge this area to a hand size 180*140mm and stick a hand icon on the suffice.
For the pressure sensor we warp it around with a bubble warp plastic and we put a small wood on the top of it as well, about the same size as the pressure sensor.
The reason is to reduce the pressure, that the people must give to the pressure sensor. We find that without the wood and the bubble warp it is more difficult for us to produce a desired result.
There are three groups of Led strips, The first one is around the touching area (12 Led. The second group is on the right side (10 Led), it shows the volume of the sound/the force level. The third group is on the top (8 Led), it’s the signal to tell users which pillar should be touched, through cables and connectors. Our team use a 50 M cat cable, separate it into a 6 different cable with length of 1.5 meter to connect it to the six prototypes. And then we cut it again into 6 different lengths to accommodate the length of each pillar. It then connected with a terminal strip where we screw it to connect the prototype to the Arduino. The Arduino will also connect to the laptop, where it would connect to Unity to show the animation.
Software to support the prototype is mainly in two parts, Arduino, and Unity. Arduino reads the pressure sensor’s value from six prototypes, transfers the data to Unity through serial.printIn(), then Unity plays the relatively Audio. 6 pillars have 6 notes, according to the pressure value, have full volume and weak volume two models. Arduino have push() function and game() function, control the touch pillar process and task play process relatively. In the Push() function, there are three judgment statements, related to not being touched, light touch and heavy touch. In game() function, control which group of signal LEDs should glow according to the song. Unity gets the data from the port, plays the sound and animation. Unity also controls the types of instruments: electronic music and percussion instruments and uses particle system to add animation effects. to produce a desired result. For the smaller animation, where when people press the pillar, there will be lights that correspond to each pillar, it is created within the Unity There are three layers in Unity project, normal, game, and final animation. When one layer is displayed, other layers will be hidden. Beside the coding, animation used in prototype was made by Adobe pr, audios were made by FL Studio.
After the introduction participants can easily understand our prototype and interact with it without support, there were two group of people can interact with our prototype even without instruction. participants were happy and active during the interaction process, and they would like to invite friends or collaborate with others. They played, shouted and laughed, chasing the red signals. Children liked this especially, running and jumping to beat the pillar, and asked to repeat this stage again and again.
An aged person admired our goal to encourage communication. He thought these days the relationship between people is quite different from decades ago. Technology changed everything - humans isolate themselves. When they go on the street, they wear headphones and don’t care about people around them in the physical world. So, he really agreed with our design purpose.
Our teaching team warned us not to use Super Mario in a public environment, due to copyright reasons. We should create our own design. There were two people who gives feedback on how our prototype really have a huge potential to another research as well. An example is: ‘What if the prototype is used to indicate people mood who were currently on the bus stop?’ They also give advises to make more research using different modularity besides music and sounds for our project.
There were two questions being asked a lot of times:
1. will this project be implemented in the Great Court?
2. What major can make this design?
Outcomes and Next step
Designing for public space is a meaningful topic, our project is a test in this area. Through the exhibition, we saw the prototype can encourage people to collaborate or compete in the interactive process. But there were some limitations: In terms of site, it’s not in a large open space, there distance between the pillars were short, one person can touch two pillars at the same time; secondly, the projector can’t support the play in the daytime, thus most of the participants didn’t realize there was projection related to their behaviors; thirdly, our prototype still has some technical defects, such as the area to touch is small, the sound controls are less than ideal. Next, we’ll do more research in this area, get inspirations from related works, and think about which part of our design can be improved. We believe, with adjustment, this creation can be applied in different locations.