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Listen Here lets tourists eavesdrop on the city

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May 22, 2012

Listen Here is a concept service for tourists that uses an electronic map connected to mic...

Listen Here is a concept service for tourists that uses an electronic map connected to microphones around town to hear live ambient noise from all over the city

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Tourists want to experience the "sights and sounds" of everywhere they travel, but usually viewing the sights is much easier than hearing the sounds. It's one thing to look at the Statue of Liberty; it's quite another to be able to listen to the sounds around it. The UK designer behind the Listen Here concept would like to redress the balance by giving tourists a chance to hear audio from all over a town without having to actually go to each place. With microphones at different locations transmitting data to a central map, tourists would be able to simply point at a different and hear live ambient sound from all around a city.

Listen Here was developed by Nicola Hume, a Product Design graduate from the University of Aberdeen in the UK. The goal of the project was to encourage tourists to experience more than just the popular sightseeing spots and get a true feel for the town as a whole.

At the map, a person can move a stethoscope-shaped RFID reader over each marker and listen...

The idea is to have locals place microphones in their favorite parts of the city. Each microphone is attached to a bike lock and has an attached key, so they can be latched into place securely. The key has a corresponding RFID tag that can be removed and then placed on the central map at the correct location. At the map, a person can move a stethoscope-shaped RFID reader over each marker and listen to a live audio feed from that location.

The idea is to have locals place microphones in their favorite parts of the city

It's certainly a cool concept, and it would definitely be interesting to see it expanded even further. While it's intended to project ambient sounds from common locations, what if we could listen in on conversations happening at famous landmarks? Or hear what's happening at a local fair or sports arena? Though of course eavesdropping laws - and the chances of accidentally catching what you might call awkward sounds - could present some hurdles.

The video below shows how tourists could use the Listen Here map.

Source: Nicola Hume

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
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