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2020. Individual Project.

A ceremony for music streaming, based on 'radical atoms' technology and the affordances of vinyl records.

Industrial + Conceptual Design  •  Rapid Sketching  •  Lo-Fi Prototyping  •  CAD + Rendering  •  Fusion 360  •  Keyshot  •  Adobe Illustrator + Photoshop

LiveVinyl is a design concept that seeks to reestablish ritual and physical interaction for music in digital formats. It consists of a shape-shifting ‘record’ (and accompanying ‘player’) which seeks to:

  1. create a tangible touchpoint with which the user/listener must intentionally engage to control their music, and,

  2. create a compelling embodiment of the music being played.

This project offered the opportunity to explore how design concepts can question and redefine norms — in this case relating to the passive consumption of music in the streaming age. It enabled me to consolidate the core industrial design competencies required to bring such concepts to life, namely:

  1. ideation and concept evolution through rapid sketching and low fidelity prototyping, and.

  2. visualisation through CAD and rendering using industry standard software (Fusion 360 and Keyshot).

Tutor feedback: “Really interesting creative work which shoes many conventions of industrial design, but always in a good way.” Dr. Stephen Green, Principal Teaching Fellow + Co-Lead of Innovation Design Engineering (IDE), Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London

Inspiration + Manifesto

I drew inspiration from the affordances, ritual, and increasing popularity of vinyl records, as well as the notions of ‘Tangible Bits’ and ‘Radical Atoms’ from the MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media group.


The latter relate to research into creating physical embodiments and interaction points for digital information, and the associated belief that physical, tangible experiences/interactions are much more fulfilling and consistent with our embodied experience of the world than screen-based ones. 


I strongly believe in this this notion and have explored the tension, disparity and intersection of physical versus digital experiences in several other projects — both academic and whimsical — which informed the thinking behind LiveVinyl. See the gallery, right, for more.

Final Design

The first two graphs below show testing and analysis of the gyroscope and accelerometer in MatLab. It was necessary to combine both and pass them through a complimentary filter to remove the errors from each. 


The third graph shows the energy level of a sample of the BeeGee’s ‘Staying Alive’. The energy peaks roughly fall on the beat.

More on PID control and the algorithm

The PID control causes the motor speeds to adjust as the segway senses from an accelerometer and gyroscope that it is tipping away from its desired pitch angle (normally perfectly upright). The adjusted motor speeds cause the segway to move in the direction it is tipping, thus righting itself and avoiding falling. 


The adjustment is dependent on how far the segway is tipping (proportional), how fast it is tipping (derivative) and a summation over time of the ‘error’ — its set angle minus how far away from it it is tipping (integral). How much each of these terms affects the adjustment needs to be fine-tuned to achieve stable balancing - when doing this the algorithm would initially request user-input for the gain of each term, achieved by reading a potentiometer on the PyBoard.


The algorithm running on the PyBoard also detects musical beats by measuring the energy level of the music and identifying when this is significantly above average (in pop/rock music this is typically on the beat). 


When beats are detected an Interrupt Service Routine (ISR) is used to briefly stop the balancing algorithm so that the segway’s target angle can be changed. When the angle is not directly upright, the segway constantly moves in the direction it is tipping to maintain it’s angle, thus ‘dancing’. 


Various dance ‘moves’ were based on different target angles, and were selected based on further parameters in the music, such as the extent to which the energy was higher than average, or how much high- or low- end frequencies are currently present in the music.

The third graph shows the energy level of a sample of the BeeGee’s ‘Staying Alive’. The energy peaks roughly fall on the beat.

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