about photophone workshop

PhotoPhone (Sound lens) Workshop

The aim of this workshop is to build an instrument using a primitive visible light communication system, with solar cells and LEDs. In 2022, the workshop was held in Lausanne, LUFF Festival, under the name ‘Sound Lens’. At that time, after the assembly, all participants listened to various sounds converted from the light in the light-sound-finding tour that took place. (The photo at the bottom of this page shows the tour ↓)

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outline (click the titles, jump the contents)



About Visible Light Communication

Visible light communication is a kind of communication that humans have used since ancient times, such as in lighthouses and wolfsbane.

The Photophone, invented by Graham Bell in 1880, uses sunlight as a light source and a light-receiving mirror that vibrates with sound, and creating a light intensity in the reflected light, which is converted into an electric current to make the speaker sound. In experiments, Bell has succeeded in transmitting sound to a distance over 213 metres.

Based on this mechanism, research into digital communication using visible light, using LEDs as the light source, began in 1998. Besides that, Nintendo released Ray Gun using this mechanism in the 1960s. Japanese media artists such as Toshio Iwai , Ei Wada and also I have used this mechanism in their work too.

Kit and prices.

A kit includes a mini breadboard, a mini audio amplifier, a capacitor, a battery box, AA batteries x 2, a mono earphone, an audio jack, a solar cell, a LED, a coin cell battery, etc.

The material cost for one kit is around $20 per person (depending on Aliexpress prices and shipping cost).

.. And I would appreciate it if I could get some workshop fees according to your regulations, because the preparation is a bit hard work for me.

What participants should bring (not essential)

radio, cassette recorder, iPhone or other audio device with mini jack output.

Workshop structure

– Introduction to the mechanism and works using visible light communication system – 20 mins.
– Assembly – 40 minutes to 1 hour
– Light exploration tour – 20-30 mins.
– If an amplifier can be prepared for each participant, an optical orchestra would be interesting.

Number of participants

8 to 12 persons

Instruction (English)


Workshop at Luff Festival