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Interface & Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon MHCI Program
Pittsburgh, PA


6 weeks


SonicBand Interactions (swf)
click a command to see the interaction
SonicBand Video Sketch (YouTube)

In a world where the iPod is all the rage, my team was tasked to think outside the box when designing a music player for young moderns.

After conducting shadow interviews with numerous young moderns, we discovered that they wanted something that would provide music everywhere without disrupting the ambience of their home.

We brainstormed a broad range of ideas, starting with objects already in the young modern's home. We ended up with SonicBand: a flat wall strip that lets you listen to music everywhere with a minimalist appearance.

design communication

Your Music at Your Fingertips

When we considered moving the music player to the wall, we were careful to separate complex interactions (e.g., building playlists) from simple, but frequent, interactions. For the latter, we devised a gesture language for interacting with the SonicBand.

The image to the left shows the Play command, which is a simple tap. Check out the rest of the interactions (requires Flash player).

A sampling of
					 SonicBand interactions

Brian Changes the Playlist

In order to provide a sense of realism in our video sketch, we used plexiglass to emulate a smooth touch screen. We constructed a thin frame on the back to allow paper to be swapped in and out from behind the plexiglass.

The prototype shown here was our minimalist representation of the SonicBand; we also had imagery for visualizations which are shown in the video sketch.

Brian drags his
					 finger downward on the SonicBand to change the playlist
design communication

Communicating Early Concepts

We sought feedback from our classmates at every stage of the design process. Early on, we knew only that we wanted to blend into the young modern's home, so we made rough sketches of simple items found there, along with simple actions that might be used to interact with those items.

Very early
					 SonicBand concepts

Framing the Discussion with Storyboards

We increased the fidelity slightly and put a story around three of our favorite ideas, and presented them to a group of young moderns in a focus group setting. The storyboard for SonicBand is shown here.

A storyboard illustrating the use of SonicBand

SonicBand: A Day in the Life

The primary deliverable for the project was to create a video sketch illustrating the use of the music player. While time consuming, video sketches are a great means of communicating concepts to a large audience with ease.