Kids blowing Wizzles

Wizzle, a kazoo-like thingy

Kids blowing Wizzles

What is a Wizzle? They are kazoo-like trumpets with a giggly tube inside.
Blow in or out to make fun kazoo noises or shake it for a fun giggly
horn like sound. Loud, zany and fun!

Sound of Touch

Hayes Raffle
& David Merrill, with Roberto Aimi
Steel, wood, custom electronics, audio processing software running on a PC, and various materials

The Sound of Touch
Sound Of Touch

Sound of Touch is a semi-acoustic instrument for real-time capture and sensitive physical stimulation of sound samples using digital convolution. A hand-held wand can be used to record sound and then playback the recording by brushing, scraping, striking or otherwise physically manipulating the wand against physical objects. During playback, the recorded sound is continuously filtered by the acoustic interaction of the wand and the material being touched.

{website | papers | press | exhibitions}

Freestanding Texture kits invite visitors to sculpt sound by exploring the visual, tactile and acoustic ranges of familiar materials. Their designs are inspired by Mondrian’s mid-career abstract paintings of blocks and lines, and in the texture kits, familiar materials are decontextualized as repurposeable media content.

While an acoustic instrument’s resonance is typically determined by the materials from which it is built, digital audio tools are usually divorced from the world of physical acoustics. With the Sound of Touch, resonant materials can be chosen during the performance itself, allowing performers to shape the acoustics of digital sounds by leveraging their intuitions for the acoustics of physical objects. The Sound of Touch permits real-time exploitation of the sonic properties of a physical environment, to achieve a rich and expressive control of digital sound that is not typically possible in electronic sound synthesis and control systems.


Topobo Griffon
Topobo system
Topobo mixed parts
Topobo moose+hands

While at the MIT Media Lab Hayes invented Topobo, a construction toy with kinetic memory, the ability to record and playback physical motion. Since 2008 he has managed Topobo Co. as founder and principal.

With Topobo, you can snap together Passive (static) and Active (motorized) components to invent your own Topobo creature and animate it by pushing, pulling, and twisting its body. For example, you can make a dog and then teach it to dance and walk by twisting its body and legs. With the push of a button, the dog will dance and walk by itself. The same way children learn how buildings stand by stacking blocks, they can learn how animals walk by playing with Topobo.

Watch the Topobo video.

{website | videos | brochure | press | awards | papers | images}


Hayes Raffle, Cati Vaucelle and Ruibing Wang
Paper, pens, paint and other physical media, microphone, speakers,
wireless transmitters and position sensing tablet, PC running custom software

Jabberstamp - girls drawing+recording
Jabberstamp drawing - annotated
Jabberstamp drawing

Jabberstamp is the the first tool that allows children to synthesize their drawings and voices. To use Jabberstamp, children create drawings, collages or paintings on normal paper. They press a special rubber stamp onto the page to record sounds into their drawings. When children touch the marks of the stamp with a small trumpet, they can hear the sounds playback, retelling the stories they have created.

Children ages 4+ can use Jabberstamp to embed names, narratives, characters’ voices and environmental sound effects in their original drawings. Children’s compositions help them communicate their stories with peers and adults, and allow them to record and situate stories in personally meaningful contexts to share with others, before they have mastered writing.

Winner, Honorable Mention from I.D. Magazine Student Design Review.

{ website | brochure | video | papers | press }

Getup Blocks

Getup Blocksgetup blocks knocked overclimbing on getup blocks

Getup Blocks automatically rebuilds a block tower that a child has knocked over. My one-year-old daughter Paloma loves to knock towers over (towers made of blocks, sand, anything). Sometimes I can build thirty towers in a row and never lose her attention.

Getup Blocks examines whether Paloma remains interested in knocking over towers that are not built by a person. Was her activity about interacting with the material or the person – or both? Based on about two months of observation with an early prototype, I think the social interactions are more important for her, but the machine has meaning of its own.

In its first version, Getup Blocks rises and falls very slowly in an organic and unpredictable way. The slow falling seemed especially interesting for Paloma, and she would sometimes stand on the base and wrestle with the blocks for a long time. Eventually she won these wrestiling matches and the motor burned out. This version (pictured) is more robust using clutches and stronger materials. Also, the blocks getup very slowly, but always fall fast now.

This project emerged from an Interactive Toy Design Studio I taught at the MIT Media Lab.

{website | video 1, video 2}


Fuzzmail logo
Fuzzmail screenshot

With email, why does a love letter have to look the same as a business letter? We invented Fuzzmail to give people’s typed communications more emotional breadth. Fuzzmail records the act of writing and lets the author send it as an email. Dynamic changes, typoes, pauses and writeovers are captured and communicated. Fuzzmail was created to provide a more emotionally expressive alternative to email, so that an emailed love letter does not have to look the same as a business letter.

You can check out one of my favorites about family and caffeine here.

Fuzzmail allows you to create more expressive text communications by incorporating dramatic timing and rhythm into the content of the written message. The act of writing becomes more like singing or acting. A fuzzmail may be a carefully scripted performance or a spontaneous creation.

Give Fuzzmail a try at

* Winner of the 2007 Web 2.0 Awards Honorable Mention, “Fun Stuff.”

Youre In Control (Urine Control) Interactive Gaming System

Dan Maynes-Aminzade and Hayes Raffle
Urinal, Electronics, PIC Microcontroller, PC gaming equipment running custom video game

Playing You’re In Control

The You’re In Control system uses computation to enhance the act of urination. Sensors in the back of a urinal detect the position of impact of a stream of urine, enabling the user to play interactive games on a screen mounted above the urinal.

While urination fulfills a basic bodily function, it is also an activity rich with social significance. Along with the refreshing release it provides, the act of micturition satisfies a primal urge to mark our territory. For women who visit the bathroom in groups and chat in neighboring stalls, urination can be a bonding ritual. For men who write their names in the snow, extinguish cigarettes, or congregate around lampposts to urinate, urination can be a test of skill and a way of asserting their masculinity.

Flush the urinal to play You’re a Nation, and drown political opposition as they campaign in key swing states.


{website | video | paper}

Super Cilia Skin

Super Cilia Skin
Super Cilia Skin hand front
Super Cilia Skin hand

Natura maxime miranda in minimis
(Nature is greatest in little things)

Super Cilia Skin is a literal membrane separating a computer from its environment. Like our skin, it is haptic I/O membrane that can sense and simulate movement and wind flow. Our intention is to have it be universally applied to sheath any surface.  As a display, it can mimic another person’s gesture over a distance via a form of tangible telepresence.  A hand-sized interface covered with Super Cilia Skin would produce subtle changes in surface texture that feel much like a telepresent “butterfly kiss.”

A small object surrounded with Super Cilia Skin could propel itself across the floor, or stop to create
visually expressive changes in surface. Conversely, a Super Cilia Skin surface could propel objects across it using mechanical gestures like the movements of a centipede’s feet.

{website | video}


Included in Inform Material, Thema. 2008.

Included in Brownell, Blaine (Ed). Transmaterial 2: A Catalog of Materials That Redefine Our Physical Environment. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (2008).

Raffle, H., and Tichenor, J. Super Cilia Skin: Interfaz de Texturas, Pasajes Construcción: Materiales. Number 31, September 2007, pp. 8-9 and front cover. Madrid: América Ibérica.

Raffle, H., Tichenor, J., and Ishii, H. Super Cilia Skin: A Textural Interface, Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture. London: Berg Publishers. 2004.

Raffle, H., Joachim, M., and Tichenor, J. Super Cilia Skin: An Interactive Membrane, Proceedings of CHI 2003.



ZOOB® is the first construction toy based on things that grow, from DNA to dinosaurs. Hayes worked with inventor Michael Grey to conceive and design the initial system. As employee #6 at Primordial, LLC, Hayes helped oversee all aspects of production design, including helping build and manage a design team to create product designs, packaging designs, and videos. The team won an ID Magazine award in the 45th Annual Design Review in Consumer Products and the toy has been popular for over twenty years.