During the London 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, sponsor Coca-Cola presented the ‘Beatbox’ pavilion in the middle of the Olympic Park. The arena combines architectural design and sound technology to produce an “artwork” where guests can walk in and create music. 230 red and white translucent synthetic cushions – 40 of them sound-emitting and touch-sensitive – were produced to make up the punk crystalline facade of the pavilion.
iart’s audio and interaction technology is integrated into 40 ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) membranes all over the building and allows visitors to “play” the pavilion like an instrument, just by touching the cushions. To enable this effect, iart created a structure sensitive to movement and touch, reacting with a series of pre-recorded sounds. Through sound, vibration and LED light activation, visitors experience the immediate tonal, tactile and visual feedback. The interactivity of the façade brings the pavilion to live offering a unique visitors experience.
Thus, creative engineering skills made the architects vision of interactivity become reality. iart developed this musical instrument from proof of concept to solution in close collaboration with the architects, the sound designers and the general contractor Nüssli. The task included the design of the loudspeakers, the development of sensors sensitive to distance, velocity and touch, the implementation of an IT based control system, the lighting design, the design of the interactive cushions as well as the system development.
Every interactive cushion contains a capacitive sensor which is connected to an antenna. The antenna is a special graphical pattern, printed on the foil with a conductive paint. The sensor can detect approaching hands and sends its data to the Open Media Controller over a serial link (baud 115200).
The controller interprets the sensor data and sends it to the server over network using the "Open Sound Control" (OSC) protocol.
The application on the server decides how the cushion should behave as a function of the sensor values. Following parts are placed inside the cushion and can be used to create interactivity:
- 2-Way speaker system
- RGB LED Strip
- Flash LED
To control the LEDs network messages (OSC) are sent back to the controller which is handling the LEDs.