Transforming Sound into Light


Sketching Out Different Forms

What if situational impairments could be seen from a distance?

This design question drove me and my partner, Brian Orlando, in this project. We wanted to explore how we might use physical devices to alert people that an environment might be too noisy for their comfort.

Because of the short timeline for this project, we needed to commit to a product form and test it. This set of initial sketches were the first exploration we performed into what would become the SynthLight.


Specifying Functional Details

Committing to an icosahedron shape, we moved into determining nuances of the structure and how an Ardunio kit might work with it.


Prototyping Functionality & Feel

Moving into testing our low-fidelity prototype, we wanted to test a couple critical hypotheses:

  • The icosahedron would be an aesthetically pleasing shape to use
  • People would grasp the sound-to-color conversions without verbal or written explanation

We were able to gather three participants to test our concept. The feedback was extremely helpful in understanding where to go from this point. Some insights:

  • Erratic light transitions
  • Hidden affordances
  • Pleasant physical form

Prototyping Final Material Effects

After fabricating the lamp frame and refining the Arduino code, we tested SynthLight again to solicit feedback on material style and light responsiveness. Some overall feedback:

  • Being able to see the LED ring inside the lamp was uncomfortable for people
  • People aesthetically preferred frosted acrylic to slatted wood
  • Light still responded too slow to sound interactions

Next Steps

At this point, we had run out of time to develop the product further. However, we would have loved to iterate further and make SynthLight a pleasant experience for users.