Event report

May 27, 2021

Design Thinking Ideathon: Hacking Barcoders with ELECTRONICOS FANTASTICOS at FabCafe Hong Kong

FabCafe Hong Kong Editorial Team

FabCafe Hong Kong was honoured to collaborate with ELECTRONICOS FANTASTICOS in February 2021, and we hosted a 2-day workshop to explore the ways to create new sounds through barcoders.

As an accredited event of BODW CityProg, FabCafe Hong Kong launched the ideathon “Design Thinking Ideathon: Hacking the Barcoder and Exploring New Sounds!” The ideathon was aiming to discover new ways to recycle old electronic appliances, and how we could reinvent music by hacking these old abandoned electronics. 

Day 1: Knowledge Learning and Concept Development

There were 10 participants who joined the workshop and they worked together in 3 different groups. We started the workshop on day 1 morning with an ice-breaking game “Meshi Mashup” to allow participants to better know each other. 

“Meshi mashup” session

Then we invited Ei Wada, the founder of ELECTRONICOS FANTASTICOS to join us through ZOOM. Wada gave us a detailed presentation on how he formed the group, and the ways he recycled different electronic appliances. Participants were very excited when Wada gave us a live performance by using CRT-TV, electric fan and barcoders. Participants were also invited to join the live performance, while Wada scanned their striped t-shirts through the camera to create electric sound. ELECTRONICOS FANTASTICOS sent us 8 barcoders from Japan, and participants tried the barcoders to scan on different objects and lines to create sounds after the demonstration by Wada.

  • Wada shared how he transformed air conditioner into musical instruments.

  • Wada's performance by using the electric fan harp.

We started the first team breakout on day 1 afternoon. Participants were asked to sketch out creative ideas of using different electronics to create unique sounds. There were a lot of interesting and crazy ideas that were made within 30 minutes! This session was aimed to help participants to think out of the box and imagine how electronics could transform into musical instruments.

Participant shared their concept sketches.

Then participants spent the rest of day 1 to focus on the barcoders, and started to think of a possible way to create new sounds from the barcoders. Group 1 wished to explore if they can create sounds by scanning coloured water, which even the Nicos never tried before! Group 2 wanted to find out the sounds when the barcoders scan on different fabrics and materials. Group 3 thought of using barcoders to develop a board game that friends and family could play together. All of the ideas were really creative and fun, which everyone was excited to see how all these ideas could bring to real life on day 2.

Participants explored the barcoders by scanning on striped paper.

Day 2: Prototype Making and Presentation

Participants spent the entire day 2 to work on their prototypes. They were using different materials, and also with our fabrication tool like laser cutter to build their prototypes. Day 2 afternoon was the show time! Group 1 used a container with holes to let black water go through, imitating a water fountain, and scanned the water with barcoders to produce sound. Wada believed it was a really cool idea to create sound with water. He believed if there are different colours added to the water, and possibly able to control the pace of the running water, the whole performance would be really attractive.

  • Group 1 presented their prototype with transparent container and coloured water.

  • Group 1 scanned the coloured water with barcoder.

Group 2 collected fabrics and materials like the traditional Hong Kong style “Red-white-blue bag”, together with different shapes and patterns to create a collage. By scanning the patterns, the barcoders produced different sounds, which Wada believed there could be a lot of design and sound possibilities from this prototype and he thought it was a really hard-core performance! 

  • Group 2 made a collage of different materials and shapes to scan with barcoders.

  • Group 2 explained the different layers of their collage.

Group 3 used the “Processing” program to produce song sheets that barcoders can scan on them to produce sound. And by scanning the song sheets, players can guess what song it is, to make it into a fun game. Wada said it was interesting to create a game from barcoders, and there could be different rules to add and make the game more fun.

  • Group 3 used the program "Processing" to produce song sheets.

  • Cutting song sheets into small cards and make it as a song guessing board game.

The 2-day ideathon was a really inspiring and fun experience. We are glad to have ELECTRONICOS FANTASTICOS to be part of this project and big thanks to their great support. And most importantly we were really impressed by participants’ ideas and ability to build all the cool prototypes! We hope there are more people in Hong Kong who can explore ways to recycle old electronics, and bring new lives to these appliances.

View more highlights of the 2-day ideathon here.


  • FabCafe Hong Kong Editorial Team

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Hong Kong.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
    Contact us

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Hong Kong.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
    Contact us

Get in touch

Subscribe to FabCafe Global monthly newsletter for more stories in innovation and design.

Our Business Services

Building products and services that push innovation for companies