novel physical-visual language of dynamic, emotionally expressive waveforms

    Life is full of moments that come with obvious or subtle expressions of energy. It is common for us as human beings to attach different emotions to such expressions. Here we present a concept and prototype that explores a novel physical-visual language of dynamic, emotionally expressive waveforms, designed to transform the way we perceive different forms of energy as we go about our daily lives. With the power of computation hidden within the physical materials used in the interface, we create an interactive form that takes one form of energy and transmute it into a waveform as its output, or Wave Alchemy.

    Design inspiration Our primary design inspiration for Wave Alchemy came from an art installation called ‘Waves’ by Daniel Palacios . ‘Waves’ is a rope-based mechanical wave machine, which detects the presence and motion of viewers around it. Depending on these contextual parameters, the frequency of the rope and the sound it generated are altered.

    If the audience was mostly immobile or still, the waves and sound environment was more harmonious. In other situations, it was more irregular and chaotic. Natalie Jeremijenko’s Dangling String is also similar in the design of the cables’ responses to the Internet traffic around it [8]. We found a number of other implementations with varying degree of complexity, from the classic Shive Wave Machine to gigantic architectural robotic surfaces like HypoSurface . We chose to follow the simplest technique to avoid the users from getting overwhelmed by the complexity of the interface itself.


    The sensitivity of Wave alchemy is reconfigurable. It can amplify, attenuate or maintain the amplitude of the signal it is listening to. When placed next to a faucet, its amplitude rises to the maximum level, and then gradually reduces to the minimum, following the waterflow.

    Harmony Detection

    When a crowd cheers for their favorite team, they usually say a number of words repeatedly and synchronously. Wave machine then assumes the shape of a standing wave .

    Transient events as pulses

    Wave alchemy when coupled with sensors can also be used for notification of transient events, like clapping, incoming email, temperature, number of people etc.

    Use Case Scenario Reminiscence through Dynamic Physical Querying

    With the ability to capture and store events and memories of all different energies and emotions, Wave Alchemy can transform the way we interact with the contextual information of any place in the past. A Wave Alchemy system can be used for reminiscing, or searching. Imagine our system to be situated in a city neighborhood on a quiet sunny morning in May. As the sun ascends into the sky, birds begin to chirp more loudly and our waveform ripples gently in response. (Figure 7).

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