Creating a Smart Pedestrian Signal

Varied activities on 5th Street / Spring St. intersection early morning

The intersection at 5th and Spring Streets, in Tech Square, is one of the busiest intersections of the campus. We can observe a variety of users from students to businessmen and workers performing myriad tasks ranging from socializing to being engaged with smartphones besides staying focused to reach their destination. This intersection’s soundmark includes urban noises, construction sounds, and constant murmur of people socializing. During rush hours, the soundscape deepens with increased intensity making it almost impossible to keep track of all distinct sounds.

With the current soundscape in perspective, I propose a “smart” pedestrian signal, that takes advantage of low intensity and right rhythm to create an ambient experience and match the fast pace life of metropolitan Atlanta. Since most pedestrians are involved in multitasking, reduced listening to relaxing music as opposed to the urban noises would help reduce stress levels and consequently the high criminal activity at Tech Square. My prototype of this smart pedestrian signal consists of a sound system that plays soothing music to allow to relax pedestrians and allow for multitasking by reduced listening.

In addition, the current interface lacks a sound warning that makes the crossing not only inaccessible for blind users but also leaves it prone to accidents as more people are engaged in multitasking and might fail to notice a change in signal. I propose a pleasing sound with an intuitive inviting behavior to indicate safe to walk signal versus a high pitched alert sound to signify danger when the sign changes back to stop.

To conclude, this unique combination of tone and intensity in sounds can play a unique role in triggering our unconscious brain in several ways from concentrating on multitasks by reduced listening to following the correct directions on the the crossing by leveraging the “dual processing” of our minds. This would benefit students, and businessmen multitasking on their way to commute.

Chilling at the Fraternity House

I live in a fraternity house. So, as a result, bonding with my brothers is central to my life.  You can bond with others in many different ways, but in the house, hanging out in our rooms is the most common way to bond.  However, this bonding is highly dependent on the atmosphere in which we are; the atmosphere is produced by the soundscape. Hanging out begins as easily as you expect.  Someone will enter their room and begin playing music.  Due to the setup of our upper hall, a square centered around a central bathroom with rooms on the outside it is easy to use causal listening to determine which room the sound is in.  With reduced listening, you can determine who is actually in the room (there are two brothers living in each room) from the vibrations of each brother’s stereo and the genre of music they are playing.  The now inviting atmosphere draws anyone who wants to spend time with other brothers.  The sounds of voices begin to fill the halls.  The reverberations and sounds of chatter are the true sound marks that define our house.  Whenever people are hanging out with each other, this sound is always there.  If these two things aren’t enough to draw you in, a raised voice, a scream, or another loud noise that is always inevitable will.  Curiosity attracts and draws as many people who can possibly fit into a room in.  Once in the room your friends’ voices and the music fight for your attention.  The keynote sounds depend on what is happening within the room.  Sometimes a new song is playing and everyone is listening trying to determine their opinion about it.  Other times you are planning activities such as lifting at the gym or playing pickup basketball or where you are going out that night.  Regardless of what is being said, you always learn something new about the people you are with.  The sounds you hear, the voices, create an atmosphere that you never want to leave.  This is bonding because you know that you love where you are and the people you are with and this all begins with the soundscape of the house.

Waking up with Justin Timberlake

Every morning at 8:05am I have Calculus. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I wake up at 6:30 to shower, eat, and power walk to west campus. My morning routine is crucial to starting the day off right, so after falling out of bed I drag myself to the bathroom. When my brain is too tired to process information, I use the radio to keep track of time. Even though the quiet hours are 10pm – 8am, as I walk down the hall I can already hear the 24/7 radio in the bathroom blasting Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” for the third week in a row. Like some sort of trigger engrained in my brain, hearing that music knocks down the first domino in my chain of morning tasks. I got that sunshine in my pocket, got that good soul in my feet. No Justin, it’s too early for this enthusiasm.

I turn on the shower, shampoo, and rinse. By then, the next song is starting. I finish my shower in about one and a half songs total. I go back to my dorm to get dressed quickly and eat, then go back to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I know it’s about 7:30 because the morning talk show is starting, most likely giving unapologetic advice to a woman who wants to know whether or not her boyfriend is cheating on her. When the hosts finally kick her off the call, it’s a little after 7:40.

These sound patterns that recur every day, are essential to my daily routines. It’s not necessarily the content or words that are important to hear, but the general type of music or radio show that’s playing that matters. It conveys the information I need, an amount of time passed or time of day, in an intuitive format.

At this point, I wouldn’t even need a watch or a phone to tell the time of day. All I need is that radio in the Harrison 2nd floor bathroom. I don’t even know what station it’s on, but I know in the morning you can hear the top 20 countdown; midafternoon through rush hour is commercial free 80’s love ballads; nighttime it’s bumping rap and R&B. Even when the hand dryer is blasting or someone turns on the shower, the radio reverberates throughout the bathroom and dominates the soundscape. Music can be both motivating and relaxing, so having it as the primary sound in that environment is a perfect start and end to my day.

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