GPS audio tour brought to you by surface speakers

The team at Eschelle Inconnue wanted to “trace a sound cartography of Islam” in Marseilles, France, so they came up with a clever little GPS walking tour powered by an Arduino, MP3 playback module, and a surface transducer speaker.

The team used a Processing app to define geographic areas where each MP3 file would play. An Arduino on the build queries a GPS module and selects the audio file from an MP3 playback module. This isn’t uncommon, and a lot of large outdoor museums (think battlefields) have similar setups.

Determining which audio to play at what location is fairly easy, but that’s not what makes this build special. Instead of simply hooking up a pair of headphones to the build, the team decided to use a surface speaker that turns just about any solid material into a speaker. From the writeup, this is supposed to, “diffuse sounds by giving the illusion to collect them, to listen to the words of the walls, the whisperings through the materials” but we think it’s just a great way to have several people listen to the same audio file at the same time.


  1. Whatnot says:

    Remember: hackaday is about the technology of this only.

    Thought I’d be so bold as to remind people before things go wrong :)

    • Omar says:

      Well, what’s the warning issued for. Have we “geeks”, or people in general become so dumb that every time we see the word ‘Islam’, we get scared or we automatically have generalized images pop in our heads – specially when those images are being stereotyped by our own media that we often detest!?

      Or is it that we like to have someone to hate? First the blacks and now the Muslims? What’s with that. Yes, of course this is only about the technology, and you having “warned” people, have in your heart already a predisposition to want to think otherwise, and hence the warning.

      • Whatnot says:

        I was thinking of french visitors since this is related to algeria, and that history is a completely different ballgame.
        And how we don’t need to discuss what’s right or wrong or who’s victim or not since it’s for us about the tech only, even if the guy of the project is using it in a way that involves such discussion for use it’s the tech that is interesting.

        Nice troll though. I hope my response gives you enough satisfaction over your success to leave it as it is.

      • Whatnot says:

        Made a typo in my 11:33 post, 5th line, “for use” should be “for us”

  2. Bogdan says:

    Although the idea seems rather interesting, i would have used a mobile phone with gps and internet connection that would play a certain file from a server at a certain location.

  3. Chris Allick says:

    I did something… almost EXACTLY the same, for my thesis:

    GPS iPhone application that guides you to spots where you can then stream a song and an embeddable mp3 player that is located in walls around the city of New York.

  4. kinofrost says:

    For anyone interested this is very similar to Groundspeak’s Wherigo ( Inspired by this perhaps people will hack together GPS-based games too! Let us know if you do.

  5. ted wilder says:

    lol the name ” Eschelle inconnue ” means in english “unknown scale”

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