Quiver Locative Audio and Acoustic Explorations (2010)

The Quiver is a wearable audio system for listeners to explore how location dependent sound and music can alter the perception of a space.

It was created as part of an apprenticeship at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies Mixed Reality Lab (MxR). Building off of previous work on simulating hearing loss in virtual training environments, we explored psychophysics, signal processing, and location aware media experience design.

Using an aluminum and magnesium 3 inch diameter full range driver in a pipe enclosure, the Quiver features portability and omnidirectional sound directivity. Inside the enclosure is a "Class-D" audio amplifier and an Arduino microcontroller.

After testing with Arduino control of a miniature mp3 player (ARCHOS Key), we switched to using GPS and audio playback Arduino expansion boards to implement the location aware feature where the speaker uses its GPS coordinates to determine what sound file to play.

Quiver has a carrying strap, recalling the culture of boomboxes and social practices and implications of altering sound in a public environment. It also relates to the DIY audio and Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and other single-board computer communities.

The acoustic design creates an "umbrella-like" immersive effect as a result of the omnidirectional sound, horizontally oriented driver, room reflections and interactions. The speaker underwent many iterations in driver selection and enclosure pipe length to achieve a more neutral frequency response given the design constraints of low-cost and portability.

By developing this combination of features, we explore the experience design of locative audio. For instance, we experimented with programming GPS change points for downtown Los Angeles that would trigger playback of different Steve Reich's compositions (such as Electric Counterpoint) as one brings the speaker from one location to another. This creates a shared (unlike isolating headphones) acoustical augmented reality where listeners explore the repetitive and ambient nature of navigation through a sleepless city, a flow-space of shifting frequencies and possibilities.

Speaker Specs:

Qtc: 0.69
Fc: 139 Hz
F3: 142 Hz

Skills and Technologies Employed:

self-directed exploration and participation with the DIY audio and electronics communities, amplifier design, signal processing, microcontroller programming, acoustics and transducers, industrial design, physical craft with hand and power tools

Additional Explorations (2014-2023)

Auditory perception is relevant to health and survival at a fundamental and evolutionary level. Since the conclusion of the Quiver project, I have taken personal interest in relevant sub-topics:

* auditory scene analysis
* controlled/constant directivity
* auditory spatial awareness as evolutionary artifact
* rationalism vs. empiricism
* the feeling of frisson
* slow listening and cultural aspects
* sound therapy for Alzheimer's disease

As a practitioner and researcher in the health and wellness domain (since 2014), I am particularly interested in how these areas can inform development of new health approaches and interventions, perhaps also contributing to the "art" of medicine and healthcare. Awareness of the complexity and intricacies of hearing lead to greater appreciation of how your body (a complex system) works and natural systems as a whole. I still see lack of long-term studies, consideration of user fatigue, user's personal background (personalization), precautionary principle, and nth order effects, misuse of reductive thinking, and lack of humility in the use of foundational knowledge (flawed assumptions in basic knowledge, biological assumptions, etc.) for developing these "hi-tech" interventions.

My summary for the listener would be to take care of your senses and thoughts! Their is a saying that you are what you listen. So be mindful of who and what you listen to and how you listen to it. Be attuned to the music of your being. It might be calling for help.

Selected References, Learning Resources, Music Therapy Relevant:

1. The Science of Sound, 3rd Edition (Rossing, Moore, Wheeler)
2. Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms, Third Edition (Toole)
3. Room Reflections Misunderstood? (Linkwitz)
4. Preferred Loudspeaker Directivity
5. Linkwitz Lab
6. Ongoing research in sound therapies for Alzheimer's disease
7. Generalized Metrics for Constant Directivity (Sridhar, Tylka, Choueiri) Princeton University Study
8. Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? (Blesser, Salter) Book on experiencing space by listening, aural architecture, Gothic cathedrals to surround sound home theater systems.
9. Brain connectivity reflects human aesthetic responses to music
10. Headphone xfeed (an attempt at solving headphone unnaturalness)
11. Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM)
12. ZKM Institute for Music and Acoustics
13. The Theory and Technique of Electronic Music (Puckette)
14. Wave field synthesis (WFS)
15. Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA)
16. Interactive Digital Art & Societal Health
17. MotionComposer
18. Missing Fundamental Effect - Left and Right Hemisphere Processing Difference - Bass Illusion
19. Taming the Beast in Mankind – Telecommunications in the 21st Century

Statements of Interest

"Human empathy is developed through our sensory capabilities, which are highly restricted by current telecommunication means."

"The very visionaries are not found in technology, they are primarily found in literature. Transgressing technology limits of one’s own time has lead to the considerable oeuvre of Jules Verne; more critical approaches may, for instance, befound with Aldous Huxley. Both largely have become reality." [Emphasis Mine]

"In such context, true technology progress is desirable. This has been Jules Verne’s initial vision. This has been the foremost hope and despair of Paul Valéry, the very root of his cultural pessimism. He knew about the beast in mankind, only tamed by beauty or truth. Telecommunications may serve the spreading of both: beauty and truth!"

"...Industry would be well advised to encourage fundamental research. However, when it comes to the question to replace candles by Edison's bulbs, the candle light makers indeed are not amused. Hence their preference for applied sciences, where revolution remains intrinsically limited and consequently under full economic control. Mental revolutions are cheap and everlasting outside a gimmick industry - illegally shedding its electronic waste all over Africa."

"The popular English expression “acquired taste” characterises the way most sensing occurs after we reach the age of two, and later in life, we are so influenced by prior experience that unbiased judgment is no longer possible. Perceptual bandwidth, the speed by which we are able to sense, reduces during childhood. So as adults, we largely hear what we expect to hear and see what we expect to see."

At the cottage window a little bird sang.
And the light of the window did flicker.
And look. The roof up it sprang
and the cottage became a house bigger.
Look. Into a world the cottage grew
and the vast and wide too
and filled with song was the air
and like new was the sun's flare.

Eino Lenio, 1898