Physical prototyping of this proof-of-concept was based on qualitative observational research on interaction with mobile devices in public spaces. The visBand transforms a private listening experience into a public interaction without disruption.
technology as a social barrier
The development of this concept stemmed from field notes on machine usage and media consumption in the active sphere, specifically campus athletic centers. An emergent observation from this research was the use of headphones as a method to control and modify one’s personal sphere. Headphones were implemented as cues to surrounding gym-goers that indicated uninterrupted practice as desirable. The action was also used to preserve a sense of privacy within a very public space.
The goal of this artifact is to disrupt and transform the process of secluding oneself in a private bubble within a public space.
I’ve always had a fascination with taking everyday objects and transforming them in some way. There is something inherently appealing about making the mundane more delightful.
Taking an object most people in developed worlds already own (headphones) and embedding within them a visual experience for the public takes music visualization one step further. No longer the domain of screensaver-like visualizations in windows media player, the vis-band takes the music visuals OFF the screen and INTO the world!
isn't music-listening private?
Listening to music is no longer a private experience (if it ever truly was). Social media entwined with internet radio platforms like Spotify and Pandora make every song you listen to visible to your approved followers, even that one shameful Britney Spears listening session late one night.
Now even your fellow college campus dwellers, your public transportation-takers, and your coffee shop denizens can experience your music without actually having to listen to it.
The visBand takes the tone, speed, volume, and genre of any particular song and displays it on a comfortable set of over-the-ear headphones. A series of low heat-producing LEDs change color and light up in programmable patterns to visualize the music coming through the wires.
realizing through prototyping
Our goal was to prototype a proof of concept that was both inexpensive and robust. We used the Arduino platform to program the audio processing and response, correlating a set of LEDs to respond to changes in tempo and volume. Then, we reconstructed a set of working headphones with the LED multiplexed assembly. As a low-fidelity prototype, this version was focused on fabricating a product that may appear rough around the edges but provides the basic interactions necessary to demonstrate the end-goal of the product life cycle.