The Spatianator: Final Presentation – Robert Kotcher & M. Haris Usmani

Assignment,Final Project — rkotcher @ 8:32 pm

Final Project: Spatianator – Robert Kotcher & M. Haris Usmani

Assignment,Final Project — rkotcher @ 8:15 pm

The Spatianator – Description

The Spatianator is a network of (currently) three semi-autonomous robots called crickets that, along with input from human “performers”, collaboratively explore and enhance the behavior of a space. The Spatianator performs a probabilistic composition that is managed by a central controller, which supervises the actions of the crickets through a state machine where each cricket is in one of three possible states at any given time:

  1. Recording mode
  2. Playback mode
  3. Perform mode

The performers (anyone present in the space with the Spatianator) are encouraged to interact with the crickets. The crickets record sounds that are occurring in the room and pass them around to one another, to the point where the room’s filter (behavior in the presence of excitation) becomes exaggerated. The composition aims to enhance the performer’s experience of resonant properties of the space they are in. Below is an example of some of the sounds created during the CFA exhibition last week.

The Spatianator – Acknowledgements

We would like to specially thank Ali Momeni for his guidance over the course of the semester, and for the privilege of being able to work in the ArtFab.

Final project milestone 3 – M. Haris Usmani & Robert Kotcher

Assignment,Final Project,Instrument — rkotcher @ 2:31 pm

Spatianator (v1.0) week 3 progress

In this video we demonstrate a beta version of a single “cricket”. The cricket has four actuators, which we talk about individually. Finally, we demonstrate sounds that we can achieve and plans for the next week of development.

Final Project Milestone 2 – Robert Kotcher, Haris Usmani

Assignment,Description,Hardware,Uncategorized — rkotcher @ 10:44 am

Milestone 1,2 Goals:

Milestone 1: Explore different types of actuators, and the sounds they can produce in different spaces. Determine how we can enhance these sounds in Pure Data.

Milestone 2: Make CAD models for crickets, build proof-of-concepts, and order any additional parts we might need.

Milestone 2 Progress:

The implementation of our milestone 2 goals was carried out in two separate areas. The first involved creating a box that could hold the components necessary for a cricket, and the second part was getting the Udoo to talk to a single actuator. Each of these items are described in detail below, and progress photos are also listed throughout the rest of this post.

Hardware Design of Crickets:
We decided to make a laser cut box to hold all our electronics, and to support the ‘goose-necks’ we plan to use to position and hold the actuators in place along with providing us flexibility. This box is now designed and we have a 2nd prototype of it- there are three compartments: The 1st compartment holds the Udoo, the 2nd houses the 50W x 2 Audio Amp and the 3rd holds the battery and the power/driving circuitry.

The box is strong enough to hold the weight of the goose-necks and the actuators. All sides are ‘interlocking’ except for one. This side allows service of inner electronics, as required.

The top and bottom of the box are cut with a thicker sheet of Masonite, as these would support the box or the actuators. So the plan is to allow this box to be attached to any 1/4 inch 20 bolt holder (like all tripods) so it can attach to whatever support we want. To distribute the weight, we will thread a 1/4 inch 20 into a metal sheer (similar to the template you can see in the diagram) and cut it so as to bind it to the lower side of the box. The top of the box already has space for attaching 4 actuators, as the four holed allow 4 goose-necks to be attached- we wouldn’t use more than 2 for now.

All the hardware required (screws, bolts, nuts) have been ordered.


Udoo, actuators
Our initial tests with the actuators used simple transistors connected directly to a DC power supply. This week we were able to connect a striker to the Udoo, and control it using a simple PureData software interface to the Udoo’s GPIOs.

Specifically, our striker actuator is connected to a DRV8835 dual motor driver, which uses logical power from the Udoo, and motor power from a battery back. We’ll need two of these motor drivers for each cricket, each of which will control four actuators.

The video below shows our basic setup. The next step is to make the circuitry more robust and portable, so that we can quickly scale to more actuators in week 3.


Final Project Proposal- Robert Kotcher, M. Haris Usmani

Final Project,Instrument — rkotcher @ 4:20 pm

Group Project: Multi-Channel Sound System (part 2)

Uncategorized — rkotcher @ 11:51 pm


The multi-channel sound system group is implementing a spatial instrument that allows us to interactively experience sound in space. The system includes software that controls a set of eight (currently) speakers that are positioned in space. We have two hardware setups for our project: the first is an umbrella that the speakers are mounted on, in which the listener sits beneath. The second is a wooden disk that is suspended from the ceiling. This setup allows the user to spin freely between the speakers.


Our three experiences are listed below:


Suspended Motion II



We have improved on the existing Suspended Motion project by incorporating our eight channel setup. Images from this new setup can be seen below. We are also still in the process of finding a chair that optimizes the experience. Many of the chairs we have tried are noisy or do not spin as freely as we would like. A complete description of the Suspended Motion setup and experience can be found here:


Localization Sensitivity Experiment

This experiment involves using the eight speaker setup to test our hearing sensitivity. We start with slow impulses rotating around the circle, and these impulses gradually accelerate until it’s difficult to distinguish which direction the sound is coming from at any given instance.


Sonic Sculptures


In Sonic Sculptures, the user is immersed in a sound environment that they quickly discover they can manipulate with their gestures. They learn to interact with the environment to make a new composition, or they can sit and listen to their environment objectively. We’re currently using iPhone gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass data, and are also looking into using kinect data.


Implementing a STABLE and ROBUST system for practical use:

In both of our setups, we have tried to make our system robust enough to take out on the road! We’ve made acrylic enclosures for all the speakers, as well as designed an acrylic amplifier box which houses an amplifier array along with a charging circuit and a Li-ion battery. The battery powered amp-box gives us the mobility we’d like to make use of later. All wiring and circuits have been shifted from the breadboard to stripboard/veroboard and everything has been kept modular to allow quick assemble/dis-assembly. For the disk setup, all hardware is mounted onto a flat wooden surface as shown in the pictures above. Finally, shielded speaker wires were used to avoid any cross-talk.


Group Members:
M Haris Usmani (Persistent Member)
Robert Kotcher
Haochuan Liu
Liang He
Meng Shi
Wanfang Diao
Jake Berntsen

Toward understanding human-computer interaction in composing the instrument (Fiebrink et al)

Instrument,Reference,Theory — rkotcher @ 5:41 pm

Group Project: Multi-Channel Sound System (part 1)

Audio,Hardware,Instrument,Reference,Software — rkotcher @ 4:23 pm


The multi-channel sound system group is implementing a spatial instrument that allows us to interactively experience sound in space. The system includes software that controls a set of eight (currently) speakers that are positioned in space. The experiences will depend on the specific hardware setup and mechanics, which are still in the works. Our group has listed five possible hardware/software setups, and we are brainstorming the many experiences we can create with each setup. These ideas are listed in the section “Categories”.


Each section corresponds to a specific hardware/software setup. For each, we include a few ideas that we have come up with so far.
  • A mobile disk that can be worn (as a hat, etc) – “Ambiance Capture Headset/Scenes from a Memory”

Every day, we move about from place-to-place to spend our time as driven by our motivations. Home, Road/Car, Office/School, Library, Park, Cafeteria, Bar, Nightclub, Friend’s place, Quite Night- we all experience a different ambiance around us and a change of environment is usually a good thing. It may soothe us, or trigger a certain personal mode we have (like a work mode, a social mode or a party mode). What if we could capture this ambiance, in a ‘personalized’ way and create this around us when we want- introducing the Ambiance Capture Headset. This headset has a microphone array around it and it records all the audio around you- it may catalog this audio using GPS data. You come home, connect the headset to your laptop & an 8-speaker circle and after processing audio (extracting ambiance only, using differences in amplitude and correlation in time etc.), the system lets you choose the ambiance you’d want. You can quickly recall your day by sweeping through and re-experiencing where you’ve been.

  • Head-sized disk with speakers positioned evenly around the disk. Facing inward – “Circle of Confusion”

In this section, our ideas tend to fall in two categories, either using the setup to confuse a listener’s perception of the world around them, or to enhance it in some way. In the first scenario, one idea is to amplify sounds that are occurring at 180 degrees from the speaker, in other words, experiencing a sonic environment that is essentially reversed from reality.

  • Speakers hanging from the ceiling in arbitrary shapes – “EARS”

Sometimes you just need someone to listen to you, like a few ears to hear you out maybe? A secret, a desire, an idea, a confession. This is a setup that connects with people, and let’s them express what they want. It’s a room you walk into which has speakers suspended from the ceiling. You raise your hand towards one, and when that speaker senses you coming near, it descends to your mouth level so you may talk/whisper into it (speakers can act as microphones as well! or we may attach a mic to each). You may tell different things to the different speakers, and once you’ve said all you want, you hear what the speakers have heard before. This is chosen by the current position of speakers, as all speakers start to descend if you try to touch them. All voices are coded, like through a vocoder to protect identities of people. Hearing some more wishes, problems, inspirations, hopes you probably feel lighter than you did before.

  • A 3D setup (perhaps a globe-shaped setup) – “World Cut”

You enter into an 8 speaker circle, having a globe in front. You spin the globe and input a particular planar intersection of the world- this planar intersection ‘cuts’/intersects a number of countries/locations. These intersected locations map to a corresponding direction in our circle, so you hear music/voices/languages from the whole ‘cut’ at a go in out 8 speaker circle. You can spin the globe and explore the world in the most peculiar of ways.

Current system setup
The diagram shows the current hardware setup. As we explain in the section below, it is subject to minor modifications.





Implementing a STABLE and ROBUST system for practical use:
The current hardware implementation is not practical, yet. The wiring obstructs the experience and the system itself is difficult to transport. The items in the section called “Categories” describes completely new hardware setups that will fix this problem. Shielded speaker wires or PCB boards may be part of a more stable. Making the project more robust could include making acrylic enclosures for the speakers. Finally, we’re looking into using larger speakers to improve the experience.


Initial Group Members:
Sean Lee
David E. Lu
Jake Jae Wook Lee
M Haris Usmani


Current Group Members:
M Haris Usmani (Persistent Member)
Robert Kotcher
Haochuan Liu
Liang He
Meng Shi
Wanfang Diao
Jake Berntsen

Instrument: “3D chocolate printer” by Liang Hao

3D Printer,Instrument,Reference,Technique — rkotcher @ 7:41 pm

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 3.40.15 PM


Instrument: “Mouse glove” by Marco Ramilli (2010)

Arduino,Instrument,Reference,Software — rkotcher @ 10:17 pm

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 6.15.41 PM


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