Project Brief

In summer 2018, Johnny (PhD student at CIRMMT) and I managed a DMI design thinking workshop with the students of Prof. Marceloʼs MUMT 620 “Gestural Control of Sound Synthesis” class. The students in the class are music technology Masters students who already possess a great deal of knowledge in the realm of DMI technologies and design. 


The workshop was adapted from the “Making Magic Machines” workshops developed by Kristina Andersen and used in a variety of design contexts including workshops for developing new DMIs. The methodology used here varied in the second half of the session, as we used the workshop activities to generate tangible design elements that could be used in the future. As a research assistant, my responsibilities included collecting and analyzing students' feedback and presenting the findings to the team.

Design Activities

Activity #1: “Draw the music”

The first activity was for the participants to consider the music they make, or wish to make, and draw it with a black marker on an index card. The activity lasted 2 minutes.

Activity #2: Non-Functional Prototyping (NFP)


Participants were asked to build instruments to play the music that they had conjured in the first activity. A wide variety of crafting materials was laid out on the table for them to use: rigid poster board, Popsicle sticks, cups of various sizes, colored index cards, wire, twine, mesh netting, various kinds of tape, glue, scissors and utility knives, paper clips, and more.

While they built, they were asked to think about the following things:

  • Instrumental Qualities: Functionality, Playability, Musicality, & Context ​

  • Design Considerations: Physical Form & Ergonomics, Interaction Methods, Sound Production, Feedback, Name​

Activity #3: Presentation and Discussion


Each participant was asked to present their instrument. While they presented, we wrote down key elements of their designs on post-it notes and put them up on the board next to the instrumental qualities and design considerations they most closely aligned to. After each presentation, the group had a brief discussion where they could contribute additional important elements to add to the board, ask questions, and make comments about the instruments.

P1: A Crankable turnable/ accordion with foot pedal

P2: Hand & foot controlled granular synthesizer 

P5: "The SAND Instrument" (physical modeling of materials)

P3: Augmented guitar with levers

P4: The Key-quencer

P6: Ambient timbre-based soundscape generator 

Activity #4: Dot-voting Elements

Next, the participants were asked to consider all of the elements that had been identified on the whiteboard, and vote for the items that they thought were most important in the design of a new DMI. Elements identified for each participantʼs instrument. Cells highlighted in yellow indicate the top vote-getters in the dot-voting.

Activity #5: Discussion about co-design of a single instrument 

For the final activity, we reviewed the results of the voting, then turned the discussion towards how we could combine some of these elements towards the design of FUNCTIONAL prototypes.


I'm Collin. I am a UX Researcher at Kinaxis, a supply chain management software company based in Ottawa, Ontario. 


Previously, I was a HCI Researcher at McGill University's Accessible Computing Technology (ACT) lab, advised by Prof. Karyn Moffatt and Dr. Carolyn Pang. My research focused on designing an interactive tabletop display to support older adults in learning how to use smart devices. 

I hold a BA in Communications from University of Washington and an MS focused on Human-Computer Interaction from McGill University. I am passionate about studying, designing, and building new technologies that can better accommodate a diversity of needs.


I am always looking for new and exciting opportunities. If you enjoyed looking through my work and would like to know more about me, please contact me!


Phone: +1.613.700.5491

​2020 Collin Wang