Mauricio Flores Vargas

Walking Sounds

Composing Locative Audio Experiences Using Bose AR Frames


Mauricio Flores Vargas

Querétaro, México


Supervisor: Dr. Fionnuala Conway



WALKING SOUNDS is a Locative Audio music composition produced for the Gardens at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. It offers a novel way to experience the grounds by overlaying a virtual layer of interactive music and spatialised sounds that adapt according to the listener’s GPS geolocation and head direction, tracked using Bose AR Frames.


The aim is creating an engaging musical experience to assess the integration of head direction tracking and three-dimensional sounds as interactive elements in locative experiences and to determine the effectiveness of the Frames and their head-tracking capabilities as an audio wearable device for location-based applications.


Background

Augmented Reality (AR) has gained interest and demand in recent years. There has been increased development of AR and wearable technology, which has resulted in the creation of several head-tracking devices for audio playback.


Locative Audio and Audio AR are receptive to such developments as they represent opportunities for the creation of location-aware applications that can further expand audio delivery and user interaction.


The Bose Frames glasses are an innovative wearable device for audio playback that allows overlaying a virtual soundscape over the existing soundscape of the environment. Thanks to the embedded gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer, it is possible to track the head direction and movements of the listener.


Methodology

Walking Sounds has been developed using Unity3D game engine and integrating FMOD as the audio engine for the musical interactivity and adaptability, MapNav Geolocation toolkit, and the Bose Wearable SDK available during their development program (which has been terminated).


The musical material, structured into six different musical zones, creates an adaptive Rondo-esque form (ABACADAEA) and a Prelude. The music is composed using various non-linear and adaptive techniques such as geofenced triggering, vertical layering, horizontal re-sequencing, and randomisation.


An Android app has been built for the locative experience to be tested in situ and assess the effectiveness of the piece, the Frames, and the listener's overall experience.


Conclusion

The overall experience is compelling and engaging. The app is reliable taking in consideration the GPS limitations, and the music design allowed to create a connection to the space offering a unique way to experience Kilmainham gardens.


The introduction of head tracking allowed for new interactive features such as triggering audio when the listener looks towards a particular direction and the spatial panning of virtual sounds placed in specific geographical coordinates in the real world.


The Frames proved to be an effective head tracking wearable device with an accurate response. However, the audio delivery gets compromised when used in noisy or windy environments. Even though spatial localisation worked as intended, they provide a coarse resolution.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that Bose is no longer supporting the Bose Wearable SDK used in this application and have terminated all developer licenses. The application is not for distribution and for research purposes only.

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