Waves of Music: Hear, Feel, See and Learn!

Meet the team:

Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC) Facultad de Ciencias, Ensenada Baja California México.

  • Adolfo Esteban Fragoso Magallanes: 2nd year, Bachelor in Computer Science. Bronze Medal at the 2014 Mexican Olympiad in Informatics. Programming and sports are the things I love.
  • Sandy González Rivera: 3rd year, Bachelor in Physics. I love math and travelling
  • Rafael Peralta Blanco: 3rd year, Bachelor in Computer Science. I like to learn new things and develop my own projects. I know how to program in Python, Java and PHP.
  • Erik Uziel Gallardo Romero: 3rd year, Bachelor in Physics. 4th place in the State Olympiad of Earth Sciences, CICESE. I love to combine Physics and programming.

Advisor: Eloísa García Canseco.


  • fragosoa@uabc.edu.mx
  • gonzalez.sandy@uabc.edu.mx
  • rafael.peralta.blanco@uabc.edu.mx
  • erik.gallardo@uabc.edu.mx

Learning description:


We love music, it motivates us either when we are working, when we are studying or when we are driving. Mumbling or singing our favourite tune brings a pleasant experience to our everyday lives. But have you ever wondered how sound travels from a loudspeaker to your ears?

The branch of science that explains this phenomenon is physics, more specifically, acoustics. Unfortunately when we think about physics we usually picture in our heads a bunch of equations written on a whiteboard, plain boring. So, the main goal of our project is to teach physics of sound waves in an interactive and fun way, that is, to provide the students a multimodal and multisensorial platform in which the users will be able to hear and feel with their hands the sound. Even better, the users will be able to understand the physics of sound.

The Project

We create a dynamic learning environment in which the user generates a sound wave by drumming a virtual drum using the Hapkit device. The system display and provide real-time features of the sound wave such as the net force with the Haply device, allowing the user to learn and notice important characteristics of a sound wave, such as its amplitude, frequency and see how the air pressure behaves.

System description

We’ve divided the learning environment in two lessons. The environment is designed for both Hapkit and Haply. The first lesson foucuses in the use of Hapkit and user do his first steps with the platform while the second one is about the user can feel the waves using the Haply and notice how they behave in real life.

Learning environment

I. Experiencing the nature of sound

Lesson one is about understanding the fundamental concepts of waves, amplitude and frequency. The student plays the virtual drum using the Hapkit. Depending on the position and the applied force, the tone and the intensity of the sound change.

To design a drum membrane and make it as real as possible, we modeled it as a second order partial differential equation which we solved using the wave equation and a simple numerical method.

II. A sound wave is a pressure wave

Lesson two teaches the user how the waves behave. At this stage of learning the student sees on the screen the pressure changes in the air particles caused by the drumsticks when hitting the drum. Air disturbances caused by the wavefront can be felt through the Haply device. As first lesson, we handled this by modeling the air with the pressure equation and solved it in the same way than the first one.

Haply allows the user to feel the waves of sound

For this lesson, the user doesn’t need to use the Hapkit anymore. A target is moving all over the membrane indicating the striking point, when the user is ready to beat the drum, just click the target. This lesson focuses on feeling the wave instead of teaching specific concepts.

III. Mathematical representation of a sound wave

The last stage shows the harmonic representation of the drum sound. The points of the membrane in which those harmonics are produced and displayed. A graphical representation illustrates the concepts of intensity, frequency and harmonic modes.

Hardware details

We used both Hapkit and Haply devices and no further modifications were needed to complete our work.

Software details

We developed the full project in Processing and Arduino IDE. Physics engines were no needed.

The source code of full project is at https://bitbucket.org/rafita96/wavesofmusic/src/1fed9ac894d8/Waves_Of_Music_v2/?at=default

No changes were needed to provided APIs.


From the beginning, we knew that the relationship between all team members would be interesting. Since we are all college students from different careers, two of us are pursuing a Bachelor Degree on Computer Science, while the others are pursuing a Bachelor Degree in Physics. Although we have different skills, we got along and worked well together. Actually that’s one of the most important skills that a team should have for success.

The most difficult part was to decide what to do for the contest. We had a lot of good ideas, in fact, it was too hard to select the best.

Finally we agreed that everybody loves music and learning acoustics (the study of sound) could be a tough task for most people, so we said: what if we combine both music and physics? and that’s how the idea was born.

Haptics is the future of technology, and we know that the only way to improve and develop things that might help people is by continue researching this field. So that’s what we shall do.