Roli Inspire Block Design Project

This is my graduate class project, and in this project I designed for ROLI, an innovative brand of music products. the most important features of ROLI's products are their modularity and tactility, so I designed a new module combining these features.



Nowadays, more young people want to create own music, but how to "start" composing is often the hardest part. The moment of inspiration is important, and how to better capture that moment so that they can better start creating music is the problem I want to solve.

For this purpose, I have designed three ideas:

Image by Elice Moore


Collection of actions while listening to music

Design earphones and earphone cases as a way to collect subconscious or active movements of the head and hands while listening to music. To "imitate" other people's drums and start composing with it.

Image by Daniel Schludi


Draw random curves and find groove

Designing a product interface can draw curves, and then try random attempts again and again to find that "surprise groove" and continue to create from there.

Image by Icons8 Team


Recognize humming

Design an audio interface that recognizes humming and converts the hummed melody into the sound of other instruments. By this way, finally add some decorative melodies or musical elements to the music


To experiment with this, I invited five people to try to create music according to the above three ideas, and the final result is that these methods are possible for people with no musical background to create music.


Participant 1


Participant 2


Participant 3


Participant 4


Participant 5

Image by Alexander Hipp


Beginning music users of Roli

Roli users' character

  • Passionate about innovative music products

  • There is a need to create music anywhere, anytime, so they need portable modular products

  • They like geeky products and they are mostly young males

  • Like tactile music products

Roli design language research



Main shape is usually square



Soft surface material



Light effects



CAD mock-up

3D print mock-up

Final design


Earbuds and earbuds case recognize body movement with music and convert to rhythm

People often dance their bodies while listening to music, and these movements are rhythmic according to my research. Also these rhythms would be good inspiration for drum beats if they could be recognized. So the earbuds part can recognize the head movement, and when the earbuds case is held in the hand it can also recognize the hand movement. These movements are finally displayed as dots on the earbuds case, and the user just needs to give the drum tone to these dots and they can get a drum beat.

Draw a random curve on the light pad of the earbuds case and get a melody at the same time

For some users who have no skill of musical instruments, they cannot smoothly try out the melody they want by playing a certain instrument. Also, because they are not skilled, they often cannot care the rhythm of the melody, which leads to a rhythmless melody. By experimenting with random curves, I found that they can get surprising melodies with interesting rhythms by this way. With the scale lock function enabled, the spacing between the horizontal points of the curve can represent the rhythm, and the vertical spacing can represent the interval.

Get the decorative elements of music by humming

After using the first two methods the user has got the rhythm and melody, at this point the user can decorate the music by humming. Humming is the most instinctive way for people to express music, which is not necessary to learn. So my product can recognize humming and automatically correct it to a pitch that matches the music theory, and then the user can translate their humming into the tones of other instruments. When the user puts the earbuds and earbuds case on the base, they can connect the product to other Roli modules. At the same time the gap between the products allows the user's hum to be transmitted directly into the earbud's mic.

box render.jpg


Expert feedback

"it looks like a great idea using Kinesthetic movement to generate music. I would love to see more about this."

Robin S Beauchamp

SCAD Music Professor

"First, let me say that your ideas are wonderful....maybe not immediately possible, but definitely innovative and fun and creative !!

it does seem reasonable that an extension application to earbuds would be interesting and would also promote musical ideas, feelings and basic human extensions for much of our world population.... even the disabled, (socially, mentally & physically) and autistic populations...which are very large on planet earth at this time.

I really love the idea of being able to swipe my finger to get a melody."

Robert Miller

SCAD Music Professor