Imperial College London

Design and Evaluation of a Web-and Mobile-Based Binaural Audio Platform for Cultural Heritage

Marco Comunità, Andrea Gerino, Veranika Lim, Lorenzo Picinali
January 1, 2021
Applied Sciences
Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

PlugSonic is a suite of web-and mobile-based applications for the curation and experience of 3D interactive soundscapes and sonic narratives in the cultural heritage context. It was developed as part of the PLUGGY EU project (Pluggable Social Platform for Heritage Awareness and Participation) and consists of two main applications: PlugSonic Sample, to edit and apply audio effects, and PlugSonic Soundscape, to create and experience 3D soundscapes for headphones playback. The audio processing within PlugSonic is based on the Web Audio API and the 3D Tune-In Toolkit, while the mobile exploration of soundscapes in a physical space is obtained using Apple’s ARKit. The main goal of PlugSonic is technology democratisation; PlugSonic users—whether cultural institutions or citizens—are all given the instruments needed to create, process and experience 3D soundscapes and sonic narratives; without the need for specific devices, external tools (software and/or hardware), specialised knowledge or custom development. The aims of this paper are to present the design and development choices, the user involvement processes as well as a final evaluation conducted with inexperienced users on three tasks (creation, curation and experience), demonstrating how PlugSonic is indeed a simple, effective, yet powerful tool.

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