Mechatronic Percussion

Every material has its own sound. By rustling a plastic bag, crumpling a newspaper and ripping cardboard, we make different sounds; shaking an empty bottle containing marbles or pebbles is a common form of play. Today, computing and DIY electronics adds a digital layer to a physical world. Integrating electronics and computing components with physical materials, we can build creative computational percussion instruments using diverse materials. Beyond the aesthetic and technical quality of the outcome, the activity encourages us to observe and experiment with technologies and everyday materials and discover related science phenomena surrounding motion, sound, and materials. We can foster creativity and ingenuity through creating and engineering, in short, by making things.

It is a work-in-progress project in collaboration with Abhishek Narula and Jiffer Harriman. We present a kit (cardboard mechanical components and a custom printed circuit board) to design and construct creative computationally enhanced percussive instruments. We want to support hands-on activity, encouraging beginners to experiment with integrating everyday objects and materials with basic electronics components and computing without requiring technical skills, and to support people to become more fluent and expressive with new technologies. We’re currently proposing to host workshops. More detail can be found here: