Satellite CCRMA: Interactive design with open embedded computers – FULL

June 11th, 2012 10:00 am until June 15th, 2012
STEIM, Achtergracht 19, 1017WL Amsterdam STEIM, Achtergracht 19, 1017WL Amsterdam

This workshop is full. It is possible to be put on a waiting list by filling out this online registration form. In the case that a spot opens up we will contact you.

Invention and interaction design workshop with CCRMA researchers

This is an in-depth course in physical interaction design led by researchers Edgar Berdahl and Florian Goltz. In this workshop we will explore the essential notions of interactive art and invention through working with small embeddable computers (the open, DIY-friendly Beagle Board). These small computers combine the connectivity of a laptop with the computational power of a high-end smartphone; however they are less expensive than either and fit inside a cigar box. We will dedicate much of the workshop to prototyping new functional artworks, for example: musical instruments, effects processors, interactive installation works, and anything else you can imagine that requires high computational power in a small, inexpensive footprint.

In the broader sense this workshop deals with interaction design: What happens when human behaviours meet those of machines? How do the devices we use determine the style of interaction? How do we design for the limitations of human performance and the affordances of machines? A key component of this workshop will be learning about the process of making something that interacts with the real world. We will cover the topic of physical interaction design in depth, using the physical interaction design framework developed by Bill Verplank as a fundamental approach.



Specific topics we will cover include:

  • The core perspectives of physical interaction design: idea, metaphor, model, display, error, scenario, tasks, and control
  • Exercises in invention, brainstorming and sketching
  • A survey of existing controllers and interactive music practices
  • Embedded, open computing with Linux and the Beagle Board
  • Sensor technologies (force-sensitive, capacitive, optical, and acceleration) and the design of custom DIY sensors using conductive and piezoelectric fabrics
  • Applications of sensors and electronics to real-time music
  • Programming music synthesis and effects with PureData
  • Interfacing sensors with the Beagle Board using the Arduino Nano
  • Hands-on work with analog and digital electronics


Dates: 11 – 15 June , 2012
Time: 10:00 – 19:00 each day with lunch break
Location: STEIM, Achtergracht 19, 1017WL Amsterdam
Cost: €300 registration + cost of workshop kit *(see below)
For those traveling from abroad, STEIM has available a number of rooms in our artist hotel for a discounted rate. Please contact us directly by email if you are interested in reserving one of these rooms.


The Beagle Board at the heart of our creations will be running Satellite CCRMA, a special flavor of the Linux operating system developed at Stanford University. Included in Satellite CCRMA is PureData, a widely-used open-source visual programming language for real-time sound synthesis and processing. We’ll be using PureData for most of the programming of sound and interaction on our devices.

The workshop is intended for musicians or composers, makers, engineers, industrial designers, or anybody looking to learn more about interaction design with basic analog and digital electronics. Please see the Physical Interaction Design for Music course taught at Stanford University for more information.


* We will provide workshop kits containing all the necessary hardware (BeagleBoard, Arduino Nano, breadboard, sensors, and components). The kits can then be purchased and taken home at the end of the workshop after you have built your prototypes. Thanks to a generous donation of components by the FLORIS.CC webshop we are able to sell the kits for €165. The price of the kits may come down even further as we seek out additional sponsors.



Each participant must bring a Max OS X, Linux, or Windows laptop. A pair of headphones with a stereo minijack connector. And a willingness to experiment and invent! To save time, we ask that Windows users pre-install Cygwin in advance of the workshop so that openssh, xinit, and the “required” packages are all available.

Even though we’ll be focusing on using PureData, any Linux-compatible synthesis software *should* theoretically run on the BeagleBoard. If you’re interested in using something other than PD please let us know beforehand so we can prepare.

You should have some programming know-how (for example: MaxMSP, Javascript, or Python) for this workshop, though you certainly don’t need to be an expert. We will be providing numerous examples to get you off the ground.

The kits can be used for prototyping new kinds of effects boxes (for instance, for guitar). If you are interested in creating a programmable effects box then please email the workshop leaders in advance so we can provide a 1/4″ guitar cable connector for you.



Edgar Berdahl is the lead developer of the Satellite CCRMA platform for developing new musical instruments and sound art installations. Edgar received his PhD at CCRMA, Stanford University in the area of new musical instrument design.  His research now spans the interdisciplinary fields of new media art, haptics, force-feedback control, acoustics, actuated musical instruments, physical modeling, physical interaction design, and Autonomous New Media Artefacts (AutoNMA).  Edgar is the inventor of the haptic drum, which enables a musician to make gestures that would otherwise be difficult or impossible, and in general he aims to make new digital interactions seem more analog.

Florian Goltz is an artist and engineer living in Berlin who designs sound art installations. Florian received a master’s degree in Communication Science and Technical Acoustics from the Technical University of Berlin, where he worked extensively with Arduino, Linux, Pure Data (pd), and SuperCollider.