Evan Knight, Head of Design (Ithaca, NY & NYC)

Thinkplay was a unique piece of audio software (part of the Cornell eLab), that allowed musicians to create digital ePedals for their instrument. These ePedals enabled any sound or sample to come out of the instrument. The product was complex, but it was my job was to make it both visual appealing and user friendly. I lead a team of two other designers working with a 10 engineers on every aspect of the product, from onboarding UX to guitar amp pixel perfection.

Alongside the UI, I also developed some promotional motion graphics and designed the website.

How it Works

A user can import any sound from their computer into Thinkplay. These sounds can then be sliced up and dragged onto the virtual guitar. Then when a user plays their actual guitar (using a special pickup), those frets will play the sounds mirrored on the virtual guitar frets.

Mobile - Dragging a Sound onto a Guitar Fret

Here a video of the software in action, playing mp3 clips through a guitar.

The ability could also be used on keyboards, and eventually all intruments that could receive a signal from the pickup.

Dragging a Video Clip onto a Keyboard

Since the capability could be used to play any files, we also experimented with allowing video clips to be played. Here the software being used to play both audio files, and video files (connected to a display).

Showing Which Frets Contain the Samples

Pedal Selected

After a good deal of feedback from musicians, I worked on an simpler app that could be used by more novice users who may not familiar with the complexity of music software.

Selecting a Blank ePedal to Build

The Outcome

We invented something unique, and awesome, that was used by musicians around the world. Thinkplay stayed strong for many years, but eventually ran into the problem of needing to build hardware in mass quantities without much funding.