This installation lets you play city sounds by stepping

Sound Steps is a drum kit for your feet!

Ever since the days of Tom Hanks playing the giant piano inside FAO Schwartz, we’ve all wanted to step on floor keys and make tunes. Now, what if those “keys” could emit city, pow-wow or drum kit sounds? Thanks to a new audio installation designed by Chelsea Stewart and Eden Lew at the School of Visual Arts Products of Design MFA program, you can!


Aptly dubbed “Sound Steps,” the project was designed under the guidance of Adafruit’s Becky Stern as the Maker explored the use of Atmel based Arduino units in rapid prototyping of new product interactions. Inspired from their recent move from to New York, Stewart and Lew decided to collect sounds around the city. Those wishing to recreate the project are encouraged to go out and collect a dozen or so unique sounds from their environment. Simply cut down the sounds using a favorite sound editor, e.g. Audacity, Adobe Audition and Garage Band, and export them to MP3s.


The sounds were then uploaded to its farm, which consisted of four 1.25’ x 0.75’ x 6’ wood boards, a few extra pieces for an interior bracing as well as MDF material to create the platform top. Sound Steps is comprised of a 9 x 9 fabric square matrix, with each square connected to a Bare Conductive Touch Board (ATmega32U4). The project invites bystanders to walk barefoot across the interactive platform to discover the city audibly.


Upon creating their prototype, both Stewart and Lew imagine the Dance Dance Revolution-like platform to be used in a variety of applications from sound paths to gaming mechanisms to a physical foot drum kit. Ready to ‘make’ some noise with this ATmega32U4 powered device? Head on over to the project’s official page here.

1 thought on “This installation lets you play city sounds by stepping

  1. Pingback: Rewind: 27 Maker musical masterpieces from 2014 | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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