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.


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.”

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.