The Fountain Experiment

Creation of sound recognition software and then implementation upon a prototype mobile device. Project conducted over three weeks within a residency at the Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol and with support from HP Labs.

Bristol, famous for its central harbor and waterways, has numerous fountains in prominent locations through out the city. Each of these water features has it’s own distinct sound pattern that is clearly audible against the din of the hosting environment.

For the ‘Fountain experiment’ a mobile interface was designed that is capable of detecting the presence of a specific fountain through listening to the soundscape surrounding a user. Furthermore, by use of stereo microphones and frequency pattern recognition, the system can predict the distance a user is from the fountain in question and panoramically where this fountain is positioned. With this understanding, the mobile interface can attach new sound event to the flow of the fountain.

For this first experiment, the sound of bubbles bursting and striking the metallic surface of the fountain’s construction has been affixed. This sound layer reacts in the same manner as that of the real water activity, shifting both in frequency and position as a user navigates and orientates around the fountain structure.

The sound on the below video is a binaural sound recording from the walk shown with a stereo overlay produced by the created system in response to this approach. It has not in any way been doctored using final cut pro or similar. The video is best listened to through headphones.

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