Tag Archives: Tangible Interface Technology

Arduino-based turntable uses toy blocks to build beats

Watch out Tiesto! With simple designs like this being thought of by Makers across the globe, a new wave of DJs is on the way.

A Swedish designer by the name of Per Holquimst is redefining the use of the old-school turntable. No longer will the instrument solely play music; in fact, his Arduino-based tangible interface turntable will have you forming beats from scratch in no time!


As a graduate student at Beckman’s College of Design in Sweden, Holquimst created the Beat Blox to enable anyone — from a child to an experienced DJ — to reinterpret the way they make music and sounds. Even though the device looks like it was created by a Swedish furniture store, the device will allow music to be assembled with ease.


How does it work? Each machine contains five digital distance sensors in its wooden arm. The instrument can analyze up to 15 different blocks, therefore allowing complex rhythms to be established. These sensors interpret the locations of the blocks and relay that data back through the Atmel MCU powered system, making music based on certain pre-programmed metrics. As the user adds a block to the deck, the distance sensor plays a sound; thus, creating a wildly different melody is as simple as moving a block an inch to the left on the rotating wheel.

This tangible interface instrument is an ideal tool to teach children about sound patterns and musical theories. Holmquist himself notes that Beat Blox is “an interactive music machine that offers free creative expression without requiring prior knowledge.”

In what may be just as entertaining as the giant floor piano at FAO Schwartz, this innovative device uses tangible interface technology and motion sensors to turn child’s play into music.