Sound: Volatile: Metopia


Session Title:

  • Sensory Body (Papers)

Presentation Title:

  • Sound: Volatile: Metopia



  • This poster describes “Sound: Volatile: Metopia”, a wireless sensor network using sonification to experience information of constant shifts in air pollution in our local environment. In this first prototype of “Sound: Volatile: Metopia”, (meta + topos), the relation between humans, technology, and the environment is addressed.

    “Sound: Volatile: Metopia” is research in environmental hazardous dust using wireless sensor networks and sonification in the urban environment to examine and communicate complex processes as part of the Internet of Things framework. Microscopic matter, invisible to the human perception, traverses our human bodies, through the air we breathe and through our skin, such as data transmission via electromagnetic propagation, dust, virus, bacteria, and other airborne particles such as volatile organic compounds, both biological and anthropogenic.

    What we humans breathe is the focus of the first iteration of “Sound: Volatile: Metopia”, and our exposure to health‑damaging pollutants, such as invisible particulate matter in the environment. When considering the Age of the Anthropocene and the growing climate problem, “Sound: Volatile: Metopia”, is about information about complex    occurrences in the environment using sonification. One third of the world population is exposed to biomass fuels, which cause respiratory problems. What we breath have a continuous impact on our bodies and on our behavior. In addition to this, the exposure to toxic clouds of dust caused by natural catastrophe, such as a vulcano eruption, or political conflict where fire arms and explosives are used, with a mixture of different particulate matter entering the human body, mostly anthropogenic, is a worst‑case scenario for the human respiratory system. One other aspect that is addressed in this project, is the economical and political framework around information of particulate and toxic matter, and quality of air, where political and economical concerns other than those of human safety influence how information is handled.

    With “Sound: Volatile: Metopia”, these complex volatile processes in our environment is addressed through the use of sensor technology, including Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) sensors, to experience the data of the measured air pollution. The changes in toxic levels in the environment are used as meta‑data in a sound composition. “Sound: Volatile: Metopia”. The project consists of a mesh network, using ZigBee a routing protocol on top of 802.15.4, is a low‑power, scalable network, which may cover a large area of the city. “Sound: Volatile: Metopia”, is connected to the Internet and the environmental data is available as an Android app, in addition to the sonification. The data collected can also be available to be repurposed for other uses.