Sound Delta Wild, digital technology in the service of nature
par Adrien Geneste | 10.10.11
Born from an idea put forward by the WWF to increase the presence of wildlife in cities, the Sound Delta Wild application helps users explore their surroundings through sound, transmitted via their smartphone headphones or supporting media.
With a goal of creating true immersive- and location-based sound environments, Sound Delta Wild uses the GPS sensor and compass of smartphones to take users on a sound safari in augmented reality. “The idea is to use sound to make animal species more visible,” said Olivier Le Gal, one of the project heads. “Through sound, it becomes possible to unveil the animal life of cities.” Exploring a new form of sound composition in space, the application allows the user, in real time, to move across a park, square or even an entire city, contemplating the soundscape at multiple listening points throughout the journey. “When approaching a listening point, the user can hear in his or her headphones sounds made by the animal expected to live in that location, the whole musical background composed especially for the project.”
An application on the cutting edge of technology
Based on the mapping of urban biodiversity, Sound Delta Wild offers a rich database of soundtracks that mingle with the sounds of living animals in their natural environment, transforming the perception of urban areas. But the WWF supported application does not stop there. As Olivier Le Gal explains, “it can also let users know whether the sound their hearing comes from an animal in danger.” Beyond the simple artistic experience, is hidden an innovative outreach project. In addition, each bird species being heard appears on the screen as a multimedia pop-up.
From a purely technical point of view, the system incorporates several advanced technologies in the field of spatial and sound localization. Viewers’ movements activate the audio streams according to their distance from the mapped virtual sound sources. As the user moves, he or she can adjust the settings of the sound broadcast. These modulations are transmitted individually depending on his or her location and orientation.
A winning project
The Sound Delta research program has been developed since 2006 by MU, a nonprofit that works in the field of creation and programming in contemporary art, music and film, and REMU, a technical service provider and creative agency, which integrates and adapts innovative technologies for the performing arts, and audiovisual and event communications, in partnership with three laboratories. The first application of this program, Sound Delta Wild, recently received an Innovation Prize at the Bain Digital Technology Festival in the Digital Creativity / Mobility category and will soon extend to the Paris region, notably in Enghien-les-Bains, “a municipality very interested in sound mapping its territory.”
More recently, a new program designed by Rodolphe Alexis devoted to bird life in the Jardin des Plantes was launched on June 17th at this year’s Futur en Seine. Soon other artists and biodiversity experts will join in to help map a Sound Delta Wild in the Paris region.
- Further reading on Innov ‘in the City: “Wild plants from my street”: the urban wild plant observatory.
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Translated by Genny Cortinovis