“ Hearing is basically a specialized form of touch. Sound is simply vibrating air which the ear picks up and converts to electrical signals, which are then interpreted by the brain. The sense of hearing is not only the sense that can do this, touch can do this too. ”（Glennie 2015）
What kind of sound does our skin listen to ? What does soundscape mean for remote communication ? With the inspiration of sound process and vibroscape, 《Keep In Sonic Touch》is a research-lead project aimed to experiment with the information transmission for letting people feel closer when communiting remotely.
“ The vibroscape is the entire set of substrate or airborne vibrations that is present in a specific portion of a geographical area. ” （Sturm et al. 2018）
If a soundscape contains so much landscape information, when it is transformed as vibration, can the soundscape captured on our skin be designed as a tangible interface for people feeling closer when communicating remotely ? With these questions, I started a wearable device which aims to translate the sounds into tactile information, concretized as a tangible interface to make people feel closer when communicating from a distance.
Soundscape is a collaborative of information which visuals cannot deliver. I have been divided into soundscape since I was working on my personal musical project called “Illusion” which combined soundscape and music together to tell a story in physical and mentally reality with sounds. Soundscape plays the role in sounds for describing the physical space when it comes to composing the sounds for films, animation or games in those moving image media formats.
Therefore, when it comes to the limit of a digital space which originates without sounds, it always reminds people it is a virtual space. Even if people connect each other through video meetings in different physical spaces, the unclear multi-physical space sounds that fill the entire virtual space does remind people that they are not together onsite even if they already spend the time online together.
In addition, the limitation of the loading of visual information both in physical and digital space is the other reason for me to choose soundscape as the sensation information when it comes to the question about what components shape a reality world. Soundscape is always here but not here until you notice it.
However, what will be the key point to connect each other? A vibration idea popped up in my mind. Sound is always defined as vibration in sound art territory. In the meantime, In medical territory, sounds are treated as a way for therapy. Therefore, I started to think about a tangible interface which is a direct way to reveal vibration according to the references and intuition.
With the above thinking process, a question popped up to my mind : what is the connection between tangible and aural information for human’s sensation. My idea is “skin”. Soundscape effects on our skin as an information of energy and no need to mention tactile information. The design process turns out into an information transmission and slowly founded a Sensation Design Methodology, escapilly for the media that relies on the internet for delivering remotely in our physical world. For the project 《Keep In Sonic Touch》it is an aural to tactile information design process for people who want to be together no matter where they are.
Stage 3 is about experimenting the principle of sonic viberation, testing the bio materials which is friendly to skin and transfer tangbile sensation.
Stage 2 is about extending the first stage to the internet version and composing them together into a wearable design. In the following picture, I separate the sending and receiving functions into 2 parts. The information is transferred by arduino and max msp as well in the stage. Meanwhile, In order to display the energy information, I added a real-time screen as the display information interface, with the assistant help from YueShen Wu.
A temporality demo film is as follows: The wearable design and a public demonstration will upload after the IRCAM Workshop in Paris 2022.
In order to accomplish the idea, I had designed the simplest system framework as follows.
Currently, the project is in the second phase of prototyping. In the first stage of prototyping, I started with a local server version in order to test the original idea to transmit the soundscapes into a real vibration. Therefore, it was designed with a contact microphone, an arduino uno, a mobile vibration motor and a MaxMSP patcher.
According to the design methodology for creating the project, “skin” as the interface plays an important role to develop the device between the machine with Internet, the contact microphone and vibration motors. Therefore, the first prototype reveals a possible shape for combing above medium togher.
The combination of contact microphone and vibration motor works with the function in which vibrations are triggered by the volume of the soundscape.
However, both the contact microphone and the vibration motor are designed as a removable interface which is what I cannot display in the first prototype. Therefore, the schematic diagram is exhibited with a concept of removible identification.
With the limitation of the motor, in the current prototyping stage, the vibration is only triggered by the soundscape's volume. In terms of the information of the soundscape, spectrum analysis will be the next step. Meanwhile, according to further research, 《Keep In Sonic Touch》is developing as a real reliable device without connecting the computer which is closer to an information transmission process and wearable device without borders.
In order to know what kind of the sound is produced by soundscape resonance on the skin, I recorded the soundscape reconoce on my skin and my friends’ skin and uploaded them on the soundcloud.
《Keep In Sonic Touch》 is still in progress, starting from the SomaRumor festival 2021. I would like to show appreciate for the tutoring from Professor Nicolás Varchausky, information support from Professor Matt Lewis, team support from Camila Proto and Guilherme Farkas, film support from Pei-Yao Chang, voice support from Susan Atwill, skin support from Codie Tse , and everything support from my family.
Sound and media lover from Taiwan, currently studying in Royal College of Art, focusing on
experimental media and sound design.
Her research is based on speculative design methodology with a time-based perspective. In the meantime, her creation is mainly about sound interaction design, music and media production with human-center perspective in virtual and physical space.