Update on Sonome

A couple weeks ago I decided that the original scope of my project was too ambitious. Creating a wireless sensor module that could exist outdoors is a fairly daunting task (and solar-powered? what was I thinking...), and when combined with the front-end map interface it is entirely too much for one semester.

However, an indoor version removes a lot of constraints. The modules don't necessarily have to be wireless, power is readily available, there are plenty of mounting options, and the physical area covered by the sensor array is much smaller.

Therefore, Sonome ITP is the new name of the project. I still want Sonome to exist as it's own concept so that's why ITP is secondary in the name (small distinction but I think it's worth mentioning as I think about the future of what an urban Sonome would look like).

Sonome ITP will be a visualization of noise on the 4th Floor of 721 Broadway, premiering at the 2014 ITP Winter Show (pending acceptance of course). Visitors will see a display in the ITP lobby that will look something like this rough version below (using random data):

I may experiment with a Google Maps overlay but this depends on if and when they install the indoor map which I submitted to them two weeks ago. The idea would be to place the Sonome visualization on top of an integrated Google Maps floor plan so that mobile users could see their current location within the space. Unfortunately as I said before this feature may not come to fruition, and so my focus for now is on this simplified image version of the ITP floor.

The sensor is coming along, too. I think now that "module" is a bit too strong of a word, since what may happen is that several microphones will be connected to one transmitter instead of one microphone per transmitter. Wireless is now optional since I have the space and infrastructure to run wires, but Despina brought up a valid point that a wireless solution may still be the smartest choice, based on the description of the microphone wiring so far.

I bought a MEMS microphone breakout and it works really well. It is incredibly sensitive so I have been trying to come up with various ways of normalizing the values coming off of it. I have also successfully connected an Arduino to a Node.js server (via USB) using duino and am able to see the microphone live on the noise map, as well as access the map on other devices on the same network.

Some major things that need to be done:

  • Decide on the exact physical system layout and connectivity
  • Normalize the noise data
  • Set up a public server (instead of a local server)
More to come soon.

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