Ferroflow

2019

An interactive electro-mechanical display that visualises sound within two-dimensional space.

Mechatronics, Signal Processing, Audio Experience

Exhibitions
Dyson School Open House (2019)
Ferroflow is a kinetic gizmo that uses mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, signal processing, to physically map sound within two-dimensional space. The gizmo uses Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) to process sound into eight different frequency ranges, mapping their intensities to the directional actuation of magnetic ferrofluid. As a result, Ferroflow facilitates the material visualisation of sound, allowing viewers to identify the nuances of music and language.
Design Process
The inspiration of the gizmo was to shed light on the nuance of speech by materialising audio and visualising the profound strength that language can have on people. It was developed through experimentation with magnetic media and audio processing techniques.

The initial idea was to create a three-dimensional structure that created unique forms with iron fillings. But, after testing, ferrofluid was found to be a more elegant and reactive medium. A process of trial and error was then used to identify the most appropriate suspension liquid and and magnetic strength for the gizmo.

A Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) program was used to process the audio into eight different frequency bands. The FFT program was first tested by mapping the frequency bands to the intensity of LEDs and then to the rotation of a linear actuator.

After the ferrofluid display and electro-mechanical audio processing was developed, they were combined into single casing that also housed the microphone, electronics, and power supply.

See the code
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