I must say, it feels quite good to get a big component of the physical work done on this project, and last Saturday, I was able to construct individual independent touch pad prototypes and test them at Steinhardt's Arts Media Maker Hack.
Here's what it currently looks like:
...and because I know you're all suckers for video, here's what it looks like in action.
The notable design difference between here and the final design is that the ground plate is currently not fixed, which allowed users to walk around the piece and experiment with the sounds. It's a cool little affordance, though I'm on the fence about whether or not I want that to be a part of the final design. Then again, it's been suggested more than once that multiple versions of this can be built to suit the needs of the specific user group.
One other contradictory finding compared to past user tests was the idea that the required touching mechanic would be a turn-off for some people. Once I explained how the piece was to be used to the panel, people were all too eager to touch each other to make the thing work, as seen in the video.
...so maybe the audience for this isn't as single-focused as I thought? I'm entering this installation in multiple festivals around the country, and perhaps an adult audience isn't as apprehensive about the human contact aspect of the work.
Three hours and a Maoz falafel later, I packed it up, but not without getting some valuable advice from professionals in the field, so I really couldn't have asked for a better result.