Untapped New York: Miss the Sounds of NYC During Pandemic? NYPL’s New Spotify Album Does the Trick. “As many of us sit in our homes in the coronavirus pandemic, we might be starting to forget what New York sounds like. We no longer hear the cacophony of rush hour traffic, the chatter of a crowded restaurant, nor the rumbling of the subway. Today, the New York Public Library dropped a new Spotify album titled Missing Sounds of New York, a collection of audio landscapes evoking the ‘daily urban orchestra’ of New York.”
The National: Missing the office? This website helps recreate the sound of your workplace from home. “From ringing phones and printers to the distant hum of background conversation, the website allows you to play white noise to help you feel like you are in the office. There is even the odd sneeze and sniff thrown in, as well as the sound of heels clicking as a virtual colleague walks by.”
ABC News (Australia): Acoustic observatory will record ‘galaxy of sounds’ to help scientists monitor Australian wildlife. “Hundreds of solar-powered audio recorders are being installed across remote parts of Australia to create a unique ‘soundscape’ as the environment changes. The National Acoustic Observatory project, funded by the Australian Research Council, was a collaboration of academics from five universities.”
Lifehacker: The Best Free Background Noise Generators for Working, Gaming, and Studying. “There are tons of background sound sites and apps, but most do the same things. We’ve compiled the best ones, all free online, plus a collection of the best background sound mobile apps. Use them as background noise while you work, read, study, play a tabletop RPG, or even in the background of a party.”
Lifehacker: Get Free Ambient Work Music With Flow State . “Every morning Flow State emails subscribers a set of background music, mostly wordless, to soundtrack your work day. And they’re pretty good at digging up non-obvious music, some of which isn’t even available on major streaming services (though almost all of it is on YouTube). Past artists include Max Richter, Olivier Messiaen, Debussy, Johann Johannsson, Tangerine Dream, Kaoru Inoue, Brian Eno, and William Basinski. (Yep, almost all men, sorry.) Occasionally there’s a DJ mix that incorporates several artists.” Flow State used to cost money but now it is free.
How-To Geek: The Best Sites for Background or Ambient Noise. “Whether you need to focus on a project or just relax, background noise can help with either of those things. Here are the best websites and sources for background and ambient noise.”
New-to-Me: a database of free-to-use ambient sounds. “Free To Use Sounds is a massive online archive of high-quality sounds that are avaliable to the public to use how they wish at no cost. The library is extensive, featuring everything from animal and nature noises, to urban soundscapes, obscure musical instruments (church bells, parades, etc) and binaural (3D) recordings.”
Google Blog: Resonance Audio: Multi-platform spatial audio at scale. “As humans, we rely on sound to guide us through our environment, help us communicate with others and connect us with what’s happening around us. Whether walking along a busy city street or attending a packed music concert, we’re able to hear hundreds of sounds coming from different directions. So when it comes to AR, VR, games and 360 video, you need rich sound to create an engaging immersive experience that makes you feel like you’re really there. Today, we’re releasing a new spatial audio software development kit (SDK) called Resonance Audio. It’s based on technology from Google’s VR Audio SDK, and it works at scale across mobile and desktop platforms.”
Digital Trends: Google Home Can Play Soothing Nature Sounds To Help You Stay Productive. “Google Home, Google’s artificial intelligence-imbued smart home speaker, can walk you through recipes, place restaurant reservations, start your car, and recap the day’s most significant events. But that is not all it can do. Thanks to a recent update, Google Home can serve up soothing ambient sounds that reduce stress and aid in concentration.” It’s going to be funny if this ends up being Google Home’s killer app.
From NewAtlas, wow! Posters and t-shirts turned into (very) local FM radio stations. “What if a band’s poster could actually transmit a sample of their music to your phone, or your t-shirt could monitor your vital signs while you exercise? Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have pioneered a technique where everyday objects can be embedded with transmitters that piggyback ambient FM signals to send data to nearby smartphones and radios using almost no power.” Can you imagine using this technology in a museum exhibit?