Tête-à-Tête <3

Rittika Basu

Project Description: ‘Tête-à-Tête’ <3 is a private-dating platform. The term, ‘Tête-à-Tête’ (French origin) refers to a secret one-to-one conversation between two people. The communication is encrypted through the use of ‘Cupid Cryptic Codes’ that gets transmitted through the playing of the mini piano keys. The objective is to have an ‘ongoing secret chat’ while being camouflaged as a piano player. There are ten piano keys in total which generate the Solfège/Solfa – an educational technique to teach musical notes and sight-reading skills and familiar beginners with lyrical patterns. For example, ‘A’ is denoted with one Red blink and generated the musical note of ‘Do’. Similar to an actual piano, the first eight mini piano keys produces Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti & Do consecutively. The last 2 keys, produces ‘Beep’ sounds denoting to set of odd and even numbers. The code syntax incorporates Alphabets, numbers, several punctuations in addition to a few emojis.






Attaching Alligator wires to the mini piano keys DIY buttons
Wiring the Arduino with the Mini Piano strings

Final Images:

cover-page setting-images 73420315_471938793422400_4582641864728903680_n background-4

Interactive Video:

Question: Guess what Neo is encrypting?

Answer: coffee?

Project Context:


I started observing ideas post observing the Mud Tub, Massage Me and Giant Joystick. One day, I came across an article on ‘Secret Dating’ and its reasons. Foremostly, its a common practise among the LGBT community as non-heterosexual forms of expressing love is a taboo in several regions of the world. In many Asian and African countries disclosure of such relationships might end up tragic incidents where the partners would be jailed, penalised, killed by relatives or chemically castrated. One of the reasons could be that the unconventional relationships are perceived as an act of humiliation and shame in society. Thus, homosexual lovers are often forced to pursue relationships in secrecy.

Being from India (one of the largest populous country), I have witnessed how dating, kissing or any form of displaying affection is publicly scowled. Whereas molestation, on the other hand, is ignored blatantly many times. Instead of teaching children on lessons of communal friendships in additions to having healthy relationships, parents wrongly depicts romantic intimacies as vile and inappropriate for youngsters. For example, during my 12th grade, my best friend’s mother told her that making boyfriend is indecent and girls who date boys will always perform poorly in academia.  This was because her parents considered ‘teenage love’ as a distraction and feared that their daughter might be engaged in pre-marital coitus.

Developing a new language – Cupid Codes:

Contemplating on the notion of secret dating, the idea of having a secret system of communication struck my mind during the next week. I commenced reading about cryptic messaging and cypher networking which had interested me since childhood. Inspired by ‘Morse Code’ and ‘Tap Code’, I attempted being an amateur cryptanalyst and created my own set of cryptic codes using LEDs blinking.


Ideation – Creating a ‘Cryptic Messaging System’

It was a struggle in the beginning as I had to conceive how to implement this transmission via serial communication within a limited set of 12 digital pins. In the fullness of time, after innumerable trials and errors, I came up with ‘Cupid Codes’ and strategise a systematic table to remember the new language. These set of multi-coloured blinks on Processing screen will help to transmit messages between two lovers secretly. While the other people surrounding the environment will assume that the participants or lovers are actually engaged in playing the Mini piano because the codes are conveyed through the playing (audio and visual output) from the piano keys.

Tap Code

Creation of a new language – Cupid Code (usage of multi-coloured blinks with different timings and syntaxes)


Rapid Prototyping:

Utilising the knowledge of DIY switches from Kate’s class 12, I tried to make the mini Piano keys wrapped with Aluminium foil to test the conductivity of electricity. However, this prototype’s form turned out to be very childish and juvenile. Hence, I had to reserve this one as a kid’s version because of its bright colours and playful mechanism.


After referring videos of DIY mini piano on YouTube and instructional images from Pinterest, I began implementing the gathered knowledge in developing my own little piano. Creating the piano switches as the DIY switches were intensive and tedious. Afterwards, I soldered the jumper wires, resistors with the copper strips attached on the piano keys. The idea was that, when these piano keys will be pressed, it completes the whole circuit and emits musical audio. There are 10 piano keys that are colour coded in Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue & Green. The 2 green-coloured keys are for odd and even numbers respectively. But rest of the eight keys are to represent Alphabets, emojis, phrases and punctuation in different combinations. Every 10 keys emit 10 different musical notes ie. the Solfège or Solfeggio, a.k.a. Sol-fa, Solfa, Solfeo, which follows as Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do and Beep sounds.

Access from GitHub (Codes + Audio + Image + Typeface) :

The coding is simple and derived from the file shared by Kate and Nick’s Github page,  titled ‘Experiment_3_-_Arduino_Processing_ASCII_Digital_values.ino’ (Arduino file) and ‘Experiment_3__Arduino_Processing_ASCII.pde (Processing file)’. 

In Arduino: Arduino Code for Experiment 3: Tête-à-Tête <3

In Processing: Processing Code for Experiment 3: Tête-à-Tête <3

Supporting Files: Audio, background image and typeface


Replacing Aluminium with Copper because not only Cu is a better conductor of electricity and its strips are harder than Al foil. Cryptic communication language was developed involving of colour blinks that appeared on the screen at different timings which are to be used and exchanged between the participants or partners for flirting, messaging and calling each other. Every piano key generates different sounds making the messaging activity seems like playing of a musical note. Since, this instrument functions like a real piano, non-participants surrounding both the partners will assume them as piano players while they can happily date their lovers in peace and privacy. 


Research + Coding Tutorials
  1. Kremer, B. (2019). Best Codes. from https://www.instructables.com/id/Best-Codes/
  2. Hartman, K. (2019). Exp3_Lab1_ArduinotoProcessing_ASCII_3DigitalValues/. Lecture, OCAD University. https://github.com/DigitalFuturesOCADU/CC19/tree/master/Experiment3/Exp3_Lab1_ArduinotoProcessing_ASCII_3DigitalValues
  3. curtis’s channel. (2016). processing: playing and using sound files [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJJCci3kXe0
  4. Engel, M. (2014). Adding and using fonts in processing [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmRbb-_d_vI
  5. Blum, J. (2011). Tutorial 06 for Arduino: Serial Communication and Processing [Image]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0pSfyXOXj
  6. Rudder, C. (2014). Seven secrets of dating from the experts at OkCupid. Retrieved, from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/28/seven-secrets-of-dating-from-the-experts-at-okcupid
  7. Elford, E. (2018). HuffPost is now a part of Verizon Media. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mom-secret-lesbian-relationship_n_5aa143e9e4b0d4f5b66e2b35
  1. Rodgers & Hammerstein. (1965). “Do-Re-Mi” – THE SOUND OF MUSIC [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drnBMAEA3AM
  2. Jaz_the_MAN_2. (2015). Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do – DO stretched.wav [MP3 file]. Retrieved from https://freesound.org/people/Jaz_the_MAN_2/sounds/316899/
  3.  Jaz_the_MAN_2. (2015).  Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do – RE stretched.wav [Online]. Retrieved from https://freesound.org/people/Jaz_the_MAN_2/sounds/316909/
  4.  Jaz_the_MAN_2. (2015).  Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do – MI.wav [WAV file]. Retrieved from https://freesound.org/people/Jaz_the_MAN_2/sounds/316909/
  5.  Jaz_the_MAN_2. (2015). Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. – FA stretched.wav [WAV file]. Retrieved from  https://freesound.org/people/Jaz_the_MAN_2/sounds/316905/
  6. Katy (2007).  Solfege – So.wav [Online]. Retrieved from https://freesound.org/people/digifishmusic/sounds/44935/
  7. Jaz_the_MAN_2. (2015). LA.wav [Online]. Retrieved from  https://freesound.org/people/Jaz_the_MAN_2/sounds/316902/
  8. Katy (2007).  Solfege – Ti.wav [Online]. Retrieved from https://freesound.org/people/digifishmusic/sounds/44936/
  9. austin1234575 (2014).  Beep 1 sec [Online]. Retrieved from https://freesound.org/people/austin1234575/sounds/213795/
  10. cheesepuff (2010).  a soothing music.mp3. [Online] Retrieved from https://freesound.org/people/cheesepuff/sounds/110215/





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