Dopasphere is a visual performance-based subwoofer that fires dynamic bass through water vapor.

Industrial Designer
UX Designer

Role:                                  Team:                                            Timeline:
UX Designer                    Andy Kim, Mier Lee                    Apr - Aug 2020

April 2018 -
Jan 2019

Role:                                  Team:                                            Timeline:
UX Designer                    Andy Kim, Mier Lee                    Apr - Aug 2020



Among the many albums that I fell in love with, I'd like to share one of my favorites with you. Norah Jones' Come Away With Me and it starts off with the most famous song from her, "Don't Know Why."

This album is very special to me because my mother gave it to me as a present; it is one of the only CDs that I have in my car, and over time I fell in love with the contrabass instrument. Since then, I took the time to approach other genres like hip-hop or jazz and eventually fell in love with all different types of bass.

As a bass lover and a musician, I wanted to create a speaker that would enhance the experience of listening to music, specifically, bass through visualization.


What is sound?

Before I got into music or even bass, I was curious what makes music, music, and how the bass is created.


Sound is just waves of pressure transmitted through air, water, or solid material. Sound is vibrating air.

This is exactly what happens as sound passes through the air. When one side is lifted up and down, that movement passes all the way along the slinky from one end to the other. The slinky doesn’t move but the energy created by the first movement passes through it.

Thus we say that "music is made from sound."


But what is the difference between music and all the other sounds that we encounter?

Most experts agree with the fact that music is created when we organize sound.

Why is music so important to us?

Fun fact: Regardless of your musical preferences your brain experiences music in the same way that other people do.


During the emotional climax of a song, dopamine is released into the brain's striatum. This is the same neurotransmitter involved in more tangible pleasures like food, sex, and drugs. Our brain is basically encouraging you to keep listening through the release of dopamine.


Steven Pinker, a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist calls music "auditory cheesecake". What he means is we didn't evolve to love cheesecake, specifically. Instead, our hungry ancestors learned to go nuts for anything sweet, high calorie, or high fat they could find. We all know music makes up a huge part of our lives. But I was challenged by a fleeting thought, 

'I wonder if there is a way to make an even more delicious auditory cheesecake?'


Inspired by the fountains of Bellagio.

Last year in 2017, I and my family got a chance to see the fountain show at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. And I was surprised by the fact that adding in the human senses of sight, smell and touch contributed a substantial to the experience.


'Create an experience that involves more senses to feel the music than just having the auditory (listening) experience.'

How does water react to sound?

Since Bellagio's fountain performance was programmed for water to dance to the music, I was curious about how water naturally reacted to sound.

From the result of the video on the right, I learned that these phenomena happen due to the Chladni Figures, aka, the resonance experiment. As the frequency is altered, the patterns in the plate assume various intricate shapes.

Water ≈ Vapor?

Seeing water react to sound, I was curious if water vapor would react to sound?

As expected, the particles were too small to be visible but the vapor was shooting by the wind created from the subwoofer drive when it was hitting strong bass notes.


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Processed with VSCO with a10 preset
Processed with VSCO with a10 preset


I realized that the force provided by the subwoofer driver was pushing air up from the bottom and shooting the water vapor through the hole on top.

One of the key insights that I found from this prototype was that the vapor that is being created had to be set at an angle, not facing straight up. Otherwise, therefore decided to have the vapor generator set in the middle and made sure that it comes out at an angle for my final design.

The second key insight was about the low pass filter. For my second prototype, I was using a low pass filter of below 50 hertz that made a better performance and shot out vapor “only” when a true low sound was created. This created a deeper and more consistent performance.


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Processed with VSCO with a10 preset
Processed with VSCO with a10 preset

Since I wanted to make a tangible product using my own design, I had to come up with an executable design that prioritizes function. This limited exploration of the form I wanted, but I still managed to find a form within these constraints that would be capable of proving that the concept works while still making it aesthetically beautiful.



Dopasphere = Sound + "Smell & Sight"

Seeing my experiments working like this was truly amazing and I think of it as a new way of listening to music. Furthering applications of this concept, I believe it would also work very well at music festivals.

Play it with the sound on to get a better sense of the design. ⇧