Sonically Augmented Spaces
Augmented reality involves the overlaying of digital information onto real space. By moving through the real environment users experience the digital information at the location to which it refers.
The aura project takes this on through the full sonic augmentation of real space. aura rejects visual interfaces (mouse, keyboard, screen) in favour of directional augmented reality using 3-dimensional sound to create a seamless, naturalistic experience.
Walking through the designated space wearing headphones and carrying an aura roving unit (Personal Digital Assistant [PDA] programmed to access user location and heading) provides full spatial listening that blurs the real world and artistic intervention. Sound takes on a physical quality in aura, thereby encouraging the creation of "sculptures of the mind".
In aura, the user is no longer asked to enter into a representation of an environment through a visual interface, but instead engages automatically with the artist's intervention by virtue of their bodily proximity within the space. The apparent naturalness of this engagement is facilitated by the mobility and perceived invisibility of the technological interface.
In other words, there is no interface to learn how to use and no technology to visually distract the user when using the system. Users navigate the augmented aura world by walking and turning, yet sounds stay fixed, so the user is able to map or identify particular sounds with features in the real world.
The sounds therefore function in much the same way as they do in the real world, with spatial and mental associations that fluctuate as the distance changes between them.
Probably the best metaphor for an aura sound world is to imagine walking through an array of invisible audio speakers suspended in space. Each speaker represents a sound node and emits different audio depending on where you, the user, is situated in relation to it.
aura is supported by the Arts Council of England.