We explored the possibilities of interacting with sounds with touch and gestures with A20, a multi-channel audio input/output device.


The A20 frame consists of 20 triangles, each of them holding a flat speaker. Transducers and force sensing resistors fit under each speaker. This enables each facet to be an audio output and touch sensitive input unit. A 3D rendering software maps sound around the device. The sound is rendered using Max/Msp. Sounds can be placed and moved arbitrarily on the surface of the device.


We conducted three participatory design workshops as well as perception tests. Brainstorming and usage scenarios investigated the use of multi-channel audio output and gestural interaction for future mobile audio devices. Our tests of the A20’s perceptual and interaction properties showed that users can successfully detect sound placement, movement and haptic effects on this device.


The A20: Interactive Instrument Techniques for Sonic Design Exploration. A. Tanaka, O. Bau and W. Mackay. 2011. In Sonic Interaction Design. MIT Press. In Press. [MIT PRESS]

The A20: Musical Metaphors for Interface Design. O. Bau, A. Tanaka and W. Mackay. 2008. In Proc. of NIME ’08.

Team and Credits

The A20 was developed while at Sony CSL in Paris, France, in collaboration with Emmanuel Geoffray (IRCAM) and Atau Tanaka (Sony CSL).