Noah Pitts
Sara Montoro
Karl Landin
Alice Lee

University of California, Berkeley
Critical Making: Materials, Protocols, and Culture


The activities of the kitchen, once communal practices shared by members of a household, have become increasingly solitary in our fast-paced society. Busy schedules leave little time for family members or roommates to socialize while preparing meals, and kitchen interactions can become cold and uncomfortable. With the PolyPHONIC Kitchen, the sociality of the kitchen space is innovatively reclaimed. Sensors are set up on commonly used kitchen surfaces and, when triggered, play enjoyable music sequences that build on each other, creating a unique song. Opening a cupboard, the refrigerator, or turning on the stove becomes a social interaction, and the shared kitchen space becomes a place where members of a household may connect with each other without changing their routines.


The PolyPHONIC Kitchen was born out of our group’s discussion about kitchen silence. One member noted that cooking alone is often quiet and monotonous, and that an activity such as music might be needed to break the silence. Another member noted that in her own kitchen, an awkward silence was overcompensated for due to the presence of housemates who shared the kitchen but did not know each other well. The unfamiliarity between housemates seemed to volumize each sound that was made - cupboards slammed, dishes clashed, and cutting vegetables sounded like chopping down a tree.

We took photos of this “awkward kitchen” and decided to analyze what made sharing it with housemates such an uncomfortable space. Noting the positives of an antisocial kitchen, one group member observed that being uncomfortable with each other often means that roommates are more likely to clean up after themselves, do the dishes, and respect each other’s items. We then compared this experience to living with friends who we knew well, or perhaps knew prior to moving in. The unfriendly atmosphere of the awkward kitchen, we realized, was due to the lack of opportunities for members of the household to interact outside of the kitchen and discover things in common. The house does not have a living room or any other common spaces, and the people who live there are divided by age, area of study, and language.

With this data with we determined the four main qualities of the awkward kitchen - silence, language barriers, close quarters, and a lack of opportunities for social interactions outside of the kitchen - and searched for a solution to overcome them.



Step 1: Parts List

The parts used in this prototype include:
5x 10K Potentiometer (with knobs)
4x Magnetic Reed Switch
1x Motion Sensor (not used in this prototype, but we'll suggest how you can incorporate it)
A computer
Computer Speakers (optional)
Kitchen cabinets and stove range (for this prototype, we fabricated these)
what is this jam going on in that video? i must know the title.
The idea is great, but i have a problem with the stove and oven. <br>Especially the &quot;preferable a fake stove&quot; part... <br>What are the operations when you use the stove ? <br> <br>I suggest putting a light detector (led+LDR) at the back of the knob and a gray gradient disc glued on the stove plate. The wires can be run back in the stove through the hole. Reading the values just requires to turn the led on and off before and after reading. <br> <br>Anyway, great idea and great selection of music. <br> <br>PS : adding a fire alarm or burnt food detector would be a plus.....
Thanks Dream Dragon, and sorry if the instructions may not have been all that clear. Basically two things are going on here.<br> <br> First Arduino is reading the state of any/all of the sensors that are installed and sending that information to the pc through the serial port (USB in this case). If you program the arduino with this code (even if you don't hook up any sensors) you'll be able to see the data stream through the serial monitor in the Arduino IDE.<br> <br> Processing then reads in that data from the serial port and parses it into various variables. Processing also uses the minim audio library to load and play/loop audio loops. For this example, we used some rather generic audio loops. Since we found that if audio didn't come in on a beat it quickly turned into just noise as more loops layered upon each other and sounded rather terrible. In the processing code you must specify the tempo of the audio loops that you are loading in (we used two separate genres, a lower tempo reggae (tempo = 75) and a higher tempo flamenco (tempo =120) to test programs ability to change the variable &quot;mspb&quot; (milliseconds per beat) dependent on the specified tempo. This is used the keep track of the beat that the music is on, and only allow it to come in on beat (we also have the variable &quot;count&quot; defined so that you can change if you would like the loops to come in on every other beat (count = 2), or every fourth beat (count = 4). In that sense triggering a sensor essentially sets a parameter of one of the audio loop channels. the stove top pots adjust the gain of 4 channels while the mag reed switches start to play a channel on the next beat (the gain of those channels is specified by oven pot).<br> <br> I suppose that became one of the fundamental design considerations. To not necessarily link an action in the kitchen with discrete sound or tone, but to allow that input to serve as a parameter in an audio mixer. Essentially there are infinite possibilities in which sensors in the kitchen setting could or could not be tripped as well as in what order. The idea was to be able to translate that into a potentially unique audio experience every time a person/s are in the kitchen doing what they do naturally, 'touching things'; ideally becoming a social experience. This prototype uses 8 channels and when only considering whether or not a channel is on or off (not considering gain or effects or anything else) there are 256 potential combinations. It wouldn't take much expansion of the audio library and sensor inputs to dramatically increase that combination (6 options on 8 channels is well over 1.5 million combinations). It is interesting to ponder how that experience would be different for people who tend to follow routine as opposed to those who don't, say a routine morning coffee ritual versus a busy night cooking with friends.
It sounds like a really good idea, but not being the sort of person who can read the code like a book, I'm not completely understanding how this works. <br> <br>Does each trigger have it's own loop, or does it play a tune when the cupboard is open?

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