The Hypnosphere is an LED-driven isolation chamber I’ve developed in collaboration with Chris Jette. It is a multi-sensory experience that separates the user from the outside world through a combination of ambient light patterns and 3D soundscapes.
The user sits on a chair and the Sphere is lowered over their head. Their field of vision is surrounded by 300 individually-addressable LEDs, which create ambient light patterns that are diffused through fur. Nine speakers are arrayed around the Sphere, creating a complex, evolving 3D soundscape. The combination of sound and light creates a cool, immersive environment that separates you from the outside world.
The LED component is composed of 300 individually-addressable, WS2811 LEDs controlled by a Raspberry Pi and a Fadecandy. The software for the light patterns is written in custom C++ code (contact me to get a snapshot). The LED patterns are projected on a Sphere surrounding the user’s head, completely filling the field of view. The light patterns are complex and have random elements, making the experience somewhat unpredictable.
The soundscape is generated in software using Max Software Tools. The software creates a virtual network of connections between the nine speakers. Audio is sampled from an input, and then propagated through the speaker network: the input to a speaker comes from the output of several other speakers, with a delay and some processing. This creates an unpredictable, evolving 3D soundscape that moves around the user’s head.
The physical components of the Hypnosphere were made from scratch. The mounting stand itself is custom welded and powder coated (I learned how to weld for this project!). The speakers are mounted on a laser cut platform. The display sign is CNC routed and painted (I learned how to use a CNC router for this project!)
The Hypnosphere in action
Hypnosphere being used at CCRMA’s 2018 open house
3D static image of the inside of the Hypnosphere
Video footage of the inside of the Sphere
The trombottle is a unique new musical instrument that my friends and I invented. I don’t have schematics, but the construction is very simple. Take a standard beer bottle and cut off the bottom (a combination of glass cutter, lighter, and cold running water work well for this). Then simply place the beer bottle (with its bottom cut off) in a slightly wider glass full of water. Done! To play, blow over the lip of the bottle, as with a flute. By moving the bottle up in down in the larger glass you can change the effective water level in the bottle and thereby modulate the pitch. A normal beer bottle has about an octave of range.
Here is a video of a performances of Bottle Waltz, a concerto for trombottle and two bottles, composed by my good friend Keith Kirchoff. This is, to my knowledge, the only extant video of a trombottle performance. Apologies for the quality: we lacked professional recording equipment.