Nature Box

In ITP, Physical Computing

For our Physical Computing midterm, Shu and I created the Nature Box, a box that allows people to create their own compositions of nature sounds and visuals.

When Shu and I first meet for the midterm project, we knew we wanted to create an interface that let people compose different harmonies of sound using their hands. We thought that there was no harmony or set of sounds that worked better together than the sounds of nature. That’s what led us to the Nature Box. In addition to layering different sounds of birds, wind and water together, we thought it would be nice to add a visual component as well.

We decided to use three Force Sensitive Resistors in order to give users feedback depending on how hard they pushed the buttons. The harder they did, the louder the nature track would play, the higher the respective icons would float and the background color would become more intense relative to that theme (i.e. birds, water, wind). We wanted the user to feel immediate feedback, so we mapped the value from the FSR directly to the volume level of the nature sound. However, it was important to use to maintain an organic and fluid feel to the visualizations. Therefore, we decided not to map the FSR value directly to height, but to the object’s upwards velocity instead. This created a very fluid wave like acceleration to the objects as opposed to having them jumping around the screen as someone would press harder and softer. We felt the more fluid approach was appropriate given the nature theme.

Before we started building the actual casing for the Nature Box, we built out the circuit to test out our concept.


Once we got the serial communication between Processing and Arduino working the way we wanted it to, we were ready to start building the Nature Box.


While nature sounds appeal to many as a source of relaxation, this version of the Nature Box was more of an exploration than a product meant for stress relief. If we were to create a second iteration, I would focus on making it more relevant to someone wanting a relaxing experience in their home.

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