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From Landscape to Soundscape

From Landscape to Soundscape

July 20, 2016 In the News

Location, location, location! No matter what your real estate need, the mantra to know seems to be the same—location, location, location. Want to find a place to live, the photo better include a cul-de-sac. Looking for a place to move your business, the landscape better involve lots of parking, a busy intersection, and other businesses to draw people to you. We routinely deduce useful information from visuals of locations and feel secure about making decisions based on that information. Should we also think about how a location sounds before making living or business decisions related to a place? ‘Sure’ you say, but all we have is a photograph in front of you. An audacious attempt to solve this problem is underway.

ChattyMaps is creating soundscapes of cities based on tagged and georeferenced photographs of various cities of the world. Go to their Web site and pick a city from the menu on the left hand border of the frame. Now you can zoom into any street and click on it to see the distribution of sounds for that street. A major highway could be predominantly “traffic” while a walking path in a forest preserve would be predominantly “nature.”

As cool as this first step is, the authors of ChattyMaps do not stop there. Next they attempt to link soundscapes with emotions. So a street full of music could evoke either joy or sorrow, a busy motorway could be associated with fear, and a residential street would trigger joy and trust. For example, the walkways of the national mall in Washington, DC, trigger a strong sense of trust. But the Lincoln tunnel in New York City evokes a mixture of anticipation, fear, and joy.

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