electrocymatics

Visualizing energy usage to inspire mindful thinking

CONTEXT  —
Our team was tasked to construct an artful, peripheral way to communicate current energy usage to the campus community. We were to design and prototype an artifact that could be mounted anywhere on campus to display the specific energy usage for that building/floor/wing. Live data would be fed from a web API.

COMPLETION —
Fall 2018, 2 weeks

SKILLS —
Computational Design
‍Visual Communication
3D Prototyping

COLLABORATORS —
Soonho Kwon
Erin Fuller
Wonjae Kim

THE CONCEPT

For this project, we employed techniques based in the world of cymatics to visualize campus energy usage. Cymatics, a subset of modal vibrational phenomena, allows viewers to observe the motions of sound. In our design, we related the intensity of our particles’ vibrations to the range of energy usage levels across campus. In other words, the higher the grain value of the visual, the higher the level of energy usage. We also utilized a gradient of blue to red to reinforce the distinction between energy levels and map current energy usage.

Render of Electrocymatic installed into ground floor entrance of a building.

THE PROTOTYPE

Using TouchDesigner, we mapped the value of current energy usage, in relation to its minimum and maximum values, to a range of frequencies we thought best communicated our intent. In a similar manner, we mapped current energy usage to a gradient between red and blue color values. We then set a transducer, a means of producing vibrations, beneath our water vessel. LED strip lights line the perimeter of the vessel in an exterior box to allow for diffusion of its hotspots.

Angle view of our prototype (left) and screenshot of our TouchDesigner programming