SANVANNA CITY is a project done in early 2019 by four people, Xinyue Pan, Xuehui Luo, Chenyu Zhang and me. I’m the group leader, responsible for overall planing of the project, technical realization of the prototype and UX design of the APP.
SANVANNA CITY is an App featuring auditory interaction. SAVANNA refers to the mixed woodland-grassland ecosystem in Africa, the paradise for wildlife animals, while CITY is the place where most people live in. In our works, various sounds in our daily life, such as people chatting and cars horning are transferred into surround sounds of primitive and wild animals in African savanna through a set of algorithms. By wearing a headphone, we create an atmosphere as if users are personally on the scene. Therefore, we try to close the gap between Chinese, rhinos and other wildlife in Africa.
A short video is published as the prototype demonstration. Since the audio part is our focus point, wearing earphones is strongly recommended.
Rhino horn is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but increasingly common is its use as a status symbol to display success and wealth. As a result, poachers are now being supplied by international criminal gangs with sophisticated equipment to track and kill rhinos. A number of wildlife including rhinos are critically endangered due to poaching.
Deeply touched by current situation, I ( as group leader ) and my three teammates participate in a project held by South Africa Peace Park Foundation. We try using new media and modern technology to narrow the gap between daily life and wild animals. We hope our works could arouse public awareness about wildlife protection and illegal hunting.
underground illegal trade for rhino horns
In addition to necessary desk research, we also manage to investigate underground rhino horn transaction by pretending to be a buyer. In the underground market, we find that rhino horns have a near-mythic status which are claimed to have curative effect for various diseases. Moreover, few buyers realize the endangerment of African wildlife because they are too distant. Publicity for wildlife protection is in urgent need.
To finish the auditory interaction, three microphones are attached to earphones receive various city sounds. The microphone array locates the source of sound, recognize its type and match it to the sound of wildlife in Africa. Animal sounds are processed through algorithm, which produces a stereo effect as if there are animals wandering in the city.
City sound is a superposition of various sounds, such as people talking and buses horning. By using Independent Component Analyze can sounds be separated into different parts.
To create an effect that wild animals are walking pass you, we need to locate the source of sounds first. Thanks to the velocity of sound, there exists a difference between the times each microphone receives the sound. Through calculation, we get the location of sounds.
Secondly，we need to recognize the type of city sounds. Sounds are made up of components of different frequences. There are already various city sounds in the database. We can judge the type of input by computing their similarity. According to different city sounds, we’ll output different wildlife sounds, using the following equation.
Human head, ears, shoulders and arms block and filter some of the outside sound, creating a difference between the sound which comes into our left ear and right ear. Through HRTF (Head related transfer function) , we can transfer a single-track sound into a stereo one. And you will feel animals are just running in front of/behind you.
USER INTERFACE DESIGN
We use three words to define the first impression Savanna City may leave on users: Modern, Freedom, Refreshing.
Blue and green are selected as theme colors to create such atmosphere in our app. By combining city and animals photos, we design picture on the main screen to highlight our theme, Savanna City, giving users an intuitive feeling of what we are doing.
As for the music interface, users are told to wear a headphone by icon and words. When they listen to sounds of savanna, they can continuously unlock new animal sounds. We also try giving a brief animal introduction when users click those the animal logos.
Our final goal is to present users a special experience in their boring daily routine.
INDUSTRIAL DESIGN FOR PRODUCTS
Earphones serve as a touchable product closely related to our app. Thus, we do a conceptual design on bluetooth earphones.
Metaphor of our design is to ‘Give The Horn Back To the Rhino‘. The wireless earphone is designed to be the shape of rhino horns, while the charger is the body of a rhino. Changing the earphones symbolizes giving the horns back to rhinos and saving their lives.
Share economy has been popular in China in recent years. We plan to cooperate with shared bike APP ( ofo, mobike ) or Navigation APP ( amap, google map ). Our app can be inserted in the APPs. With earphones worn, users can not only enjoy wildlife sounds while riding, but also get warned when there are cars horning in front of them, as they’ll hear rhinos roaring loudly towards them as warnings!