Silent Synchronicity is an interactive silent disco that encourages social interaction and lets people create a unique music experience through dance and movements within a club setting. The user's selected music channel, location on the dance floor, proximity to other dancers and speed of hand movements are each mapped to music variables to create a personalised experience. Through certain software programs, some of which includes Ableton, Vuforia, and Unity, tied in with hardware such as Ultrasonic Sensors, Accelerometer, Transmitters and Receivers, Silent Synchronicity was created by the Chaos Composers.
All elements of the project lead toward socialisation and a playful experience, through modulating music. The first elements is when users are far apart from one another the music they are listening to becomes distorted and overall "fuzzy". Whereas, when the users come closer together the music becomes clearer and simply nicer to listen to. This encourages users to group together and overall encouraging socialisation. This example is just one of four main modulating music elements to the project, all of which encourage the user to socialise.
Silent Synchronicity is intended to be held within a club setting, with the main form of interaction to encourage dancing and a playful experience. The modulation of music can be both heard, through wireless headsets, and seen, through a visual display. Utilising some near-future technologies, listed above, and fitting into the future mundane, Silent Synchronicity truly fits the studio's theme for the semester.
The final project used on the day consisted of many physical technological features. Do keep in mind this was the final form on the day, and if implemented in a real life scenario (a night club setting) would hold many different aspects to the build.
First the physical form of the project had to be built on the day, as it was not a single product that could just be brought and put onto a table to demo. The whole project was the exhibit itself, which included the gazebo tent with tarped walls; hard flooring for dancing; black sheets to enclose the area; lots of decorations, mainly streamers and glow sticks, to liven the atmosphere trying to resemble a dance club; taped flooring to indicate sections for the users. There are other physical aspects, which I have included in the technology hardware section below.
The hardware used was made up of LED light strips, Ultrasonic sensors, lots of wiring, an accelerometer, transmitter and receiver, a few Arduino boards and a speaker. The accelerometer and transmitter were inserted into a glove for the user to wear, which analysed how much the user was moving their hand, meaning to indicate how fast they were dancing. This movement speed was then transmitted to the receiver, which was connected to the computer behind the tent, which eventually altered the tempo of the music being outputted, back through bluetooth to the speaker for the user. Next the Ultrasonic sensors were sewn into the back wall of the gazebo which observed have far the user was from the front of the dance floor, as well as which lane the user was in. The data went from these ultrasonic sensors to the Arduino boards, which were connected again to the laptops behind the gazebo tent. The clarity of the music and number of instruments being played were altered and again bluetoothed back to the speaker for the user and also changed the output of the LED lights. These lights were sewn into the left side of the tent, meaning to resemble a visual display for the user to have feedback from, as well as the music.
The software included the Arduino boards being programmed and properly implemented using a music software called Ableton. This is where the input from all the sensors would go into and adapt the music, which was being outputted back to the speaker on the day. It's a live stream of input and output from the program and aims to be an instant feedback for the user. The software changed the tempo of the music, the number of layered instruments being played, the clarity of the music and also changed the LED output.
The exhibit day showed our group a large mix of emotions to say the very least.
The start of the day saw things simply not working. It went from a two person wireless experience, to a one man public speaker experience. Looking back we're glad it went the way it did, but at the moments of it all first breaking was hard for the group to swallow. After a semester's work, seeing the tools fail on you, and not necessarily the product you made yourself, was frustrating to say the least.
We had gotten four pairs of bluetooth headphones for the exhibit, and the actual project code was working, but then the connection from the laptops to the headsets were broken. We weren't able to get the headsets to even appear anymore, so after a half hour of failed troubleshooting, we had to go to a large speaker approach instead.
We also saw that it would no longer be viable to do a two person experience of the lane system, which can be seen in most of the diagrams made for the day, so instead got swapped out with tape on the floor to represent "proximity to another person". This way we could show proof of concept at the very least, in regards to the clarity of the music change with proximity to another user.
We found the public’s response to be a lot more positive and engaging than anticipated. It’s one thing for the users to understand the project and how it works but then interacting with it and hearing the changes, depending on their movements, was very awing for a lot of users. Comments such as "oh my gosh, that is so cool" was heard throughout the night. Seeing the smiles light up at the changes and them realising it really was them doing the change, was really nice to see after a semester's work to get it going. We were expecting a lot less seamlessness with users interactions, but were pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was for them to pick up the concept.
The next steps of the project, if it were to be released into a real life scenario, would first be to get multiple headphones connected properly to a central system. For as long as it is a one man project it can't properly take the steps it needs to get where it needs to be. Another major hole that needs to be fixed is the "channels" for the users to choose from. The project is about socialisation and finding people who have things in common with you, meant to be represented by the colour lights on your headset indicating you're listening to the same channel (pop vs classical vs country music etc.) and also getting an actual night club setting made, instead of just a gazebo in The Great Court. Was such an amazing semester though and we had such a ball as a group for the project..