Children playfully soldering and assembling parts of digital music instruments.

Children playfully soldering and assembling parts of digital music instruments.

Project Description

The project Sparkling Instruments deals with the playful design and technical development of digital music instruments. Three groups of secondary school students, among them one girls-only group, start with trying out existing instruments and music games. Then the students create playful possibilities to interact with music in a series of workshops with musicians, game designers and music technology experts, and implement them technically in the form of digital music instruments. A closing public event is organized by the participating school students, where these instruments are presented to the school community and the public. The aim is to bridge the gap between art and technology. In this highly interdisciplinary context, to improve the understanding of new forms of music making is a goal just as increasing interest in STEM subjects such as computer science and physics, which are involved in the construction of digital musical instruments. A special focus is fostering the interest of girls in STEM subjects.

A conceivable scenario in the project is a group of school students who design and construct a digital flute. Playing the flute is detected by analysing the airflow with a simple temperature and humidity sensor. The locking of the flute’s holes can be tracked by a light sensor. The construction of this flute requires, on the one hand, to understand the basic principles of electronics, which allows students to design the necessary circuits, and, on the other hand, to learn the necessary practical and crafting skills such as soldering. The sounds of the flute are generated by a digital synthesizer. In working with this synthesizer, students deal with digital sound generation and the associated musical parameters. With their finished instrument, they then explore possibilities of musical interaction together with their classmates.


Das Projekt Sparkling Instruments beschäftigt sich mit der spielerischen Gestaltung und technischen Entwicklung digitaler Musikinstrumente. Drei Gruppen von SchülerInnen, davon eine reine Mädchengruppe, probieren zunächst vorhandene Instrumente und Musikspiele aus. Danach werden von den SchülerInnen in einer Reihe von Workshops mit MusikerInnen, Spiel-DesignerInnen und Musiktechnik-ExpertInnen spielerische Interaktionsformen mit Musik gestaltet und technisch in Form von Instrumenten umgesetzt. Bei einer abschließenden von den SchülerInnen gestalteten öffentlichen Veranstaltung werden diese Instrumente der Schulgemeinschaft und der Öffentlichkeit vorgestellt. Das Ziel ist ein Brückenschlag zwischen Kunst und Technik. In diesem stark interdisziplinären Kontext soll gleichzeitig das Verständnis für neue Formen des Musikmachens zu verbessert und das Interesse für die am Bau von digitalen Musikinstrumenten involvierten MINT Fächer wie Informatik und Physik geweckt bzw. vertieft werden. Ein spezieller Schwerpunkt ist das Fördern des Interesses von Mädchen an MINT Fächern. 

Ein vorstellbares Szenario im Projekt ist eine Gruppe von SchülerInnen, die gemeinsam eine digitale Flöte entwerfen und konstruieren. Das Hineinblasen wird mit einem einfachen Temperatur- und Feuchtigkeitssensor erkannt. Das Zuhalten der Löcher wird z.B. über einen Lichtsensor bestimmt. Die Konstruktion dieser Flöte erfordert es einerseits Grundlagen der Elektronik zu verstehen, di es erlauben die notwendigen Schaltungen zu entwerfen, und andererseits die nötigen Fertigkeiten, wie zum Beispiel das Löten zu erlernen, um diese praktisch umzusetzen. Die Töne der Flöte werden durch einen digitalen Synthesizer erzeugt. Im Umgang mit diesem Synthesizer setzen sich die SchülerInnen mit digitaler Klangerzeugung und den damit verbundenen musikalischen Parametern auseinander. Mit dem fertigen Instrument erkunden sie danach Möglichkeiten des musikalischen Zusammenspiels mit ihren MitschülerInnen.

Project Team

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Fares Kayali is a researcher, educator and designer living and working in Vienna, Austria and PI of the project. His research interests are situated in informatics, didactics, arts  and HCI with a broad spectrum covering game design and gamification, health care technology, music computing and interactive art, as well as teacher education and game-based learning. Fares has completed his habilitation in “Game Design and Education” at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and works as a senior postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Design and Assessment of Technology at the Vienna University of Technology. There he is co-founder of the Positive Impact Games Lab ( and principal investigator of this project and the art-based research project “Breaking the Wall - Playful interfaces for Music Audience Participation”. Fares Kayali  lectures at several Austrian universities and has presented his work in highly regarded academic publications and conferences such as CHI, DiGRA, GDC, GLS, Ars Electronica, Games for Health, Games for Change and Entertainment Computing. His works have won or been nominated for high-profile awards such as IndieCade, the Independent Games Festival, Europrix, eAward and Occursus.

Dr. Oliver Hödl holds a PhD awarded by the Vienna University of Technology. Currently, he works as a multi-disciplinary researcher and artist with an interest in Human Computer Interaction (HCI), interactive and collaborative music making and multimedia art. He is a research fellow at the research group Cooperative Systems at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Design and Assessment of Technology at the Vienna University of Technology.
In research, he focuses on interaction design, user experience, art-based research approaches, and using HCI-related qualitative and quantitative research methods. His newly developed music instruments and interactive concerts have led to performances throughout Europe, USA and Australia. Furthermore, he has worked on research projects around game design, urban mobility, safety and disaster solutions, and healthcare IT.
He was awarded for a Best Paper at the ACHI conference in Barcelona in 2014 for his new gestural music instrument Trombosonic and received an Honorable Mention at the CHI conference 2016 in San Jose for Salome Experience, an interactive opera-streaming project. In relation to research grants, he successfully applied for FWF PEEK in 2014 to fund the first art-based research project led by the Vienna University of Technology.

Prof. Dr. Peter Purgathofer is associate professor at the Institute of Design and Assessment of Technology at Vienna University of Technology. His research is focussed around questions of design and technology, with game design and positive impact games as one of the major focus areas. He is coordinator for the media informatics bachelor and master curriculum. He teaches core bachelor corses in informatics and society and in HCI, as well as a number of master level courses on explorative design, gameful design and related areas.

Prof. Dr. Peter Reichl has been studying mathematics, physics and philosophy in Munich and Cambridge (UK). After finishing his PhD studies in Computer Science at RWTH Aachen and ETH Zurich, he became Key Researcher at FTW Telecommunications Research Center Vienna, Austria, where he was responsible for the research area "User-centered Interaction and Communication Economics". Dr. Reichl has published more than 100 journal and conference papers in the areas of telecommunication economics, user perception of telecommunication services and Quality-of-Experience, next generation networks, and future mobile networks and services. Following his habilitation at TU Graz, he became holder of the SISCOM and RBUCE WEST International Research Chairs on "Network-based Information and Communication Ecosystems" (NICE) at Université Européenne de Bretagne/INRIA/Télécom Bretagne in Rennes, France. In 2011, Peter Reichl was appointed Professor for Networking Technology at Aalto University Helsinki, Finland, and since 2013 he is Full Professor for Computer Science and head of the Research Group “Cooperative Systems (COSY)” at the University of Vienna.

Dipl.-Ing. Christian Löw graduated from the Faculty of Informatics, Vienna University of Technology, in 2016 with distinction (Master’s programme: Media Informatics, Bachelor’s programme: Media Informatics and Visual Computing) with a thesis on the usage practice and design aspects of Electronic Health Record Systems. Previously, he has been affiliated with Vienna University of Technology as teaching and student assistant and FTW Telecommunications Research Center Vienna as research assistant.
Since 2015, Christian Löw is involved in research projects at the Cooperative Systems Group of the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Vienna, at first with the ›PREventive Care Infrastructure based On Ubiquitous Sensing‹ (PRECIOUS) project and subsequently as Research/Teaching Assistant (Univ.-Ass.) and PhD Student. Interests revolve around user research methods and methodology, aspects of design and assessment of technology as well as participatory/co-design processes in the context of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ubiquitous Computing and Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). Further areas of interests are Quality of Experience and techno-economics.

Mag. Paul-Reza Klein t.b.d.

Mag. Stefan Voglsinger is an austrian musician and performer. Voglsinger is exploring sound on stage, in the studio and in the field, as well as improvising and composing activities for music, film, dance and theatre projects. He organizes Circuit Cooking soldering workshops with a focus on circuit bending, analog synthesizer & distortion circuits and piezo objects. Voglsinger performs with amplified objects, Super8 and 16mm projectors, drums and electronics. At Setzkasten Wien he organizes and curates regularly exhibitions and performances.

The project is hosted at the Institute of Design and Assessment of Technology (Vienna University of Technology) and will be carried out in close collaboration with the  Cooperative Systems Research Group (University of Vienna) and the Viennese school  G11 Geringergasse. The project is funded by the Sparkling Science program of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.



fares <at> igw <dot> tuwien <dot> ac <dot> at


Publications and Dissemination