Paper Waveform Guides

2 years ago

Modifying audio and optical waves without electronics using computational origami and digital fabrication.


Audio and optical waves are affected by impedance and governed by the same rules as analog electronics and they have been used in speakers for over a century. It's inaccurate to say that they amplify light and sound, but by reducing impedance, you can make a speaker sound louder or make a light appear brighter.

A simple audio waveform guide for an iPhone
an initial sketch for an origami speaker design


The mathematical equations for spirals, parabolas and hyperbolas are translated into code and create splines and outlines in 2D.

Equations for spirals lifted from existing research & Tomoko Fuse's "Spirals"


I created the shapes of the waveform guides using a parametric script that I wrote in Python with the Fusion 360 API.


I rigged my CNC mill to draw / cut the outlines and create the interior fold lines – which saves a lot of work. Laser cutting at highly controlled settings works just as well. The mill was controlled through Fusion 360s CAM software.

final result


I used the same techniques above to create a parabolic softbox that cost about $40 and works beautifully!

Interior and exterior of softbox


Portrait taken with the parabolic softbox used as the only light source.

photo credit: Catwalk Studios

Hunter Futo

Published 2 years ago