DRUMBALL: a rhythm-based haptic interface

Drumball is a rhythm-based haptic interface prototype exploring:
  1. Rhythm as a mode of communication (talking drums)
  2. Multimodal representations (audio-visual) of rhythmic input (tap patterns)
We are currently in the process of iterating over several versions of the prototype, exploring different sensing mechanisms of the rhythmic input, and fine-tuning the communication protocol between the device and the gaming application environment.

The following talk provides an overview of the mechanical engineering considerations that are to inform and guide the design work.

0:00 introduction
2:11 design motivation
9:50 input/output model
18:20 research hypothesis
25:43 demo (prototype A)
27:30 design reformulation
30:10 demo (prototype B)
32:15 discussion
33:22 home, community & school contexts
34:08 on hypermedia digital orality systems (standalone use)
37:12 additional requirements (power, portability, feedback, controls, etc)


  • The Northeastern ADVANCE Office for the Future Faculty Fellowship postdoctoral opportunity that made the continuation of this research possible.
  • Victor Zappi for the design and implementation of the audio communication protocol to deliver control signals to the receiver application.
  • Arvind Thyagarajan for the concept design of the current prototype composed of a wedge-shaped laser-cut wooden box with 3D-printed pads housing 5 piezo microphones.
  • Angela Chang, Jon Gillick and Jeremy Gordon for wonderfully insightful input and feedback that informed important decisions throughout the entire design process.
  • The Center for Technology, Society & Policy at UC Berkeley for the seed grant funding and fellowship support in the early phases of the design research and implementation.