SuperLounge Interactive Musical Chair: What and How

Monks sit to meditate. Families sit at the dining table for a nice meal. Bros sit on the couch to play videogames. Students sit at desks to learn. Now you can sit – just sit – to play music.

The Superlounge Interactive Musical Chair is an exploration into the creative potential of sitting. We use pressure sensors hidden in the cushion to detect weight distribution throughout the chair. These sensors transmit to a micro processor to output MIDI commands, a protocol standard to the digital music industry.

Originally I had ambitions to build my own chair. My initial idea involved building a scale model of a valley that someone could sit in. This proved insurmountable given the time I had available for this class. I looked at chairs being sold at thrift stores and came across some good ones. However cheap they were, no price is better than free – I settled with a chair that was laying unused in storage. It had some stains on it and the upholstery made it look disgusting to sit in. I wanted to fix that, while also embedding my pressure sensors into the cushion. I decided to sandwich the sensors between the old foam cushion and the new one as a way for the pressure sensors to pick up data from a broader area than just on top of the sensor.

I got both the fake leather and the green 0.5″ foam for about $13 from Joann, using sales deals from their app – enough to make two chairs! I also got 8 pressure sensors from Sparkfun because I misplaced 4 of them – but found them buried in my AesDes folder. Each was valued at $7. No lost cost – that just means I can make more chairs.

This was the first time I did upholstery, and I learned a lot. I approached it by stapling the centers of the edges first, pulling the leather tight in between, and stapling the middle of the subdivisions. When it came to corners, they were a bit tricky, but the method I used remained the subdivision method, but instead stapling perpendicular to the edge. This created a fanning of the material that ended up looking a bit intrusive, however the edge of the seat had no wrinkles.

I took the example code and schematics from Sparkfun and basically quadrupled it in parallel. I honestly did not test it (besides with a multimeter) before I made the final soldered product – my high faith in my soldering ability thankfully paid off. It took SOOO long to solder! It was partially due to the fact that I hd to try several different methods before it “looked right.” I feel like in some ways I pulled a Steve Jobs in that I made sure every last solder joint and shrink-wrap looked pleasing even though they weren’t going to be shown. Hopefully that plays into the longevity of this artifact. It’s quite amazing to notice every little aesthetic decision that’s made in a project.

My buddy Cooper showed me how to use a hand drill to twist wires (one end in vise, other end in drill chuck, and pull the wire taut), because I only had those green and black wires available to me in quantity for free. I had to solder as little as possible onto the sensors or else their plastic covering would melt. I also chose to put them in small bags to protect them. I made my own custom-sized small bags by turning the soldering iron to its lowest temp and drawing borders on a regular ziplock bag to weld the from and back together. Then I cut it using scissors, ensuring the borders had sealed edges. These were just a handful of the manufacturing tricks that I learned along the way.



CAD drawings,

fabrication description,

costs vs budget, etc.

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12 Comments. Leave new

  • […] SuperLounge Interactive Musical Chair: What and How […]

  • Hogan Auyeung
    May 8, 2019 5:00 pm

    Your upholstery skills are on point! The whole device looks really cool and I think the application of the project will be awesome in the future.

  • Hadeel Al Gallaf
    April 24, 2019 1:55 pm

    That’s a very cool idea. Have you explored what type of music the chair would output? Maybe have it match the chair’s aesthetic? Music from that era that would make you feel like you have traveled back in time. Maybe you can expand that idea and make chairs that channel aesthetics from different eras and have a historic chair collection. Good job!

  • It’s a cool project combining aesthetics with technology. The implement of pressure sensors is quite a unique idea. The way you seat determines the music type is quite interesting design!

  • This is the most high-tech project I’ve seen in this class. The aesthetic design of the chair is clean and looks comfortable. Normally people test the functionality first but I like how you got the functionality and comfort at the same time for the prototype. I’d be very cool if you could maybe show how the chair reacts with the user.

  • Joshua Engmorris
    April 24, 2019 1:51 pm

    Luke, I like the aesthetic of your final chair even though you didn’t focus too much on that. I like that you tried upholstery in this project, I think that came out well. I think its a cool idea and I look forward to seeing it work. Also, its cool to see that you will be moving forward with this and possibly getting it involved in performances. I could see it being a song in a performance where maybe one band member plays by moving around on the chair.

  • Fatema Alhalal
    April 24, 2019 1:50 pm

    Wow! Impressive work! I really liked your idea. I would paint the wood to make it more aesthetic. Otherwise, good job!

  • Cool project! really cool that you managed to get some grant money for this and may continue to pursue this design in the future. Great job with this.

  • Christopher Seighman
    April 24, 2019 1:49 pm

    The upholstery looks really nice! I really like the innovative idea and the potential future uses of it. This would be a really cool interactive performance piece

  • The inspiration for the project is a little funny . This sounds like it was technologically a challenge to create. It was cool to see the step by step process of how you made this come to life though. I can tell that a lot of time went into this product though and it is very cool.

  • Danielle Glanville
    April 24, 2019 1:47 pm

    The idea you had of a giant sitting in a valley is very unique and lead to a really interesting project. I like that you pulled inspiration from your upcycle project and home life to develop your design too. I’m excited to see your work at expo!

  • Luke, I think upholstering would be such a cool skill to learn. This project was well thought through and looked so good!


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