Environmental sound is a major part of how we navigate our world - and can even affect our health.
I created an augmented reality device to promote mindfulness of ambient sound, and its effects.
Soundware is an immersive audio experience with one goal: get people to listen to the world around them, and tune in to it.
Developed originally as my capstone project for the Design | Cultures and Creativity (DCC) honors program at the University of Maryland, its various forms reached over 500 people through 4 exhibitions in 6 months.
"Instagram filters, but for your ears!"
From sketch to reality took a semester. The first iteration was a clear enclosure with speakers inside and microphones outside. The audio outside the helmet would be picked up by the microphones, sent to a laptop running software to process and filter the sound, then sent back to the speakers inside the helmet to filter the world in real-time.
Putting on a show
The first iteration was presented and demoed at both the DCC gallery exhibition for arts-based capstone projects, as well as the general DCC capstone fair.
- A smaller device that was battery powered, mobile, and meant to be used with headphones. It had limited functionality, was built for exploration, and was named AT-1 (for 'Audio Tour').
- A stationary, purely auditory experience created by selecting live and pre-recorded sounds from throughout the space and remixing them on the spot, done by modifying the original device.
Spreading the Word
As part of the Soundware project, I worked with members of the community at Beechwood Arts to gather sounds from around their sculpture garden into a single, mixable listening room. This was a collaborative, team-oriented effort that helped get other people on board with a Soundware project, and set up a platform for further experimentation.
More details on the Soundware project and its development can be found on the DCC capstone website here.