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Entries in iPhone (3)


Play the Road

There’s some music I associate with traveling by car. I don’t own a car and travel by public transport most of the time, so it’s mostly based around memories of sitting in the back of my parents’ car, listening to Phil Collins, Crowded House and the like. But I do ‘get’ what people call “driving music”. Some music’s just better suited to drive to.

Volkswagen played on this concept, taking driving music further. Collaborating with dance music artists Underworld and audio specialist Nick Ryan, maybe best known for his 3D audio game Papa Sangre, they created an app which reads different data streams from a smartphone which are then used to generate the music. So when you’re slowly driving along a country road on a rainy thursday morning, the music’s going to sound a whole lot different than if you’re speeding down the motorway on your way home that night.

I think it’s good to see technologies like this that have been around in more open-source efforts like MobMuPlat being used by R&D departments of bigger companies to bring new experiences like these to a broader audience. The app isn’t commercially available yet, but they are inviting people to “play the road” themselves.


The Definition of a Good Ringtone

It’s happened many times: I sit in a train, as all of a sudden a loud noise wakes up all the passengers. It’s a phone, as loud as can be. Thin, harsh music. Many faces turn to the source of the sound, watching it’s owner dig in his/her pocket to pick it up as soon as he/she can.

But it’s already too late. I don’t know the person, but now I know his/her love for German schlagers (and probably lots of beer and sausages, right?). Apart from the fact the sound annoys other people, what does it say about a person? What kind of prejudice does he/she leave?

This is a random example of a situation in which unwanted sound disturbs our living space, and there are many more. I cannot think of any good reason to use music as a ringtone anyway. It’s like wearing a button showing a tiny fragment of a painting by your favorite artist.

The music I like might not be the music you prefer (and I like to listen to a song from beginning to end, preferably on a quality sound system or headphones), and the sound of your three-year-old yelling might make you feel all warm inside, do you think it has the same effect on your colleagues? That being said, let’s look at the positive side of things. Is there such a thing as a good ringtone?

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Mapping noise levels with WideNoise

WideNoise is an iPhone app made by WideTag for measuring noise levels wherever you go. You can use it to take a noise sample of your neighborhood and upload the data to the WideNoise website to show it on a map. 

I just tried it and apparently I live in a place with a 'sleeping cat noise level' at the moment. Probably because it's quite late in the evening, and the only thing I clearly hear outside is an airco installation on the building next to mine, and some cars passing in the distance. 

Once I uploaded my noise sample data within a second the map on the WideNoise website showed a notification about my measurement. But now I wonder what happens next. It would be nice to be able to see a more accurate heat map showing the average noise levels at places all over the world, but that's not available. Maybe more people need to use the app to accomplish this. 

I'd say it's an interesting idea but the processing and representation of the captured data needs some work. It could be surprising to see how noisy most of our cities are. Noise pollution is a serious issue.