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Project Team: Agata Guzik, Dimos Moysiadis, Marilena Skavara, Vlad Tenu
Within the realm of pervasive technologies, SoundTracking explores the potential of the digital dimension of space as a different layer of interaction between people and between people and the spaces they occupy. Through ubiquitous computing, the project looks at materializing this invisible layer of digital presence of people generated by their everyday use mobile devices by interactively transforming it into music and visuals.
At the micro-level, the project was developed around the idea of mapping abstract data into sensorial media. By using Bluetooth scanning, the two locations chosen for SoundTracking, the Print Room Cafe and the Wates House Foyer, have been augmented with a pleasant ambient soundtrack generated by a library of sound samples triggered by the detection of mobile devices in the proximity of the installation. The soundtrack would be different for different groups of people present in the space, as a distinctive sound sample would be attributed to each detected device, this way giving a musical variation through the day as people would enter or leave the places. In parallel with the audio experience, several visual abstract representations of the detected devices and of the spectrum lengths of the sound samples are being projected within the space, the names of the devices being part of the display. The immediate interactivity has been given by an RFID reader which made possible a series of instant audio-visual demonstrations triggered by student or Oyster cards.
Following the two experiments, the project is adaptable to several potential next steps that could include new scenarios at different scales and different types of locations or environments. Parameters such as the music samples, could vary from downtempo sounds to highly rhythmic samples that could engage the people in different ways, maybe from simple audition to dance and create even larger scale public musical performances. This example of mapping of data into audio and visual information is meant to bring a new approach to the manifestation of the digital dimension of space by enhancing it, in both a passive and an active way, by people’s electronic devices.
As a research exercise of urban flow analysis through data visualization, the analytical part of the project focused on different ways of representation of Bluetooth data, collected through several ‘gates’ in the city of Bath. Besides standard graphs and classic analysis tools, the alternative methods related to sound as a medium for transforming the data into 3D volumes through music. Very interesting correlations between the real figures, the spectrum lengths and variations of the sound and the generated 3D shapes were reflecting proportionally the numerical and the graphical results.