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Soundware

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Soundware

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. 

 
 
 
 The original sketch

The original sketch

 The first iteration

The first iteration

 
 

"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. 

 
 
 
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Next Steps

  1. 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').
  2. 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.

These two, along with a written, guided meditation, were presented at the Clarice's 'NextNow Fest' at the University of Maryland over 2 days.

 
 
 

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.