Locational-based WebAR Research 

Thesis Research 


Locational-Based AR,
Spatial Sound,
Interaction Design
UI Interface

Project Github︎︎︎

This is the Thesis research paper, focusing on analyzing sound, defining materials, and searching for solutions to build a location-based WebAR project.

For the entire project, please read through my thesis paper.︎

Audio Responsive Visuals, test in Touchdesigner, build with Shaderpark

Issue1: How to embed these 3d shaders to locational based webAR?

Locational AR

When searching for the solution on how to make a locational-based AR, I found A-frame and AR.js, see links( Aframe AR.js ) are suitable for this project. Therefore  in taking Vuejs as the skeleton of my web app, I start to combine aframe and arjs to my frame work and try to display webgl shader to the app.
Here are some tests that I did in pure js by following Nicolò Carpignoli’s Build your Location-Based Augmented Reality Web App.
Here is what I build in the test, and the result are deployed on github.io.

As the images show, there is a simple model loading in the scene. 

Features under development:
  • menu bar,
  • sound,
  • popup message box...

The second step is to add the locational data into the app. In order to let people find all these objects easily, it is necessary to display a pin over each objects.
To run the app, open this link on your phone and agree to use geolocation datas. ︎

Shader in AR

In research, I found shaderpark is a suitable liberary for me to combine different sound-reactive shaders to the AR scene.  In shaderpart, with it’s own function createSculpturewithShape, we can easily put the shaders into a scene. I thus create a glitch template(see link) to hold the 3d shaders. Here is the test template and some screenrecordings.

Issue2: Workable Interface to bring audience best AR experience

XR Interface 


Through the user testing, I gradually realize that the current interface is not reasonable in a horizontal view, as the bottom menu bar will take lots of space in a screen, especially, an Andriod phone will have a sticky menu bar sits in the bottom. Besides, user are more familiar with holding a phone vertically and swinging around to scan their environment. I decide to disregard my old interface design and take the transparent menu bar style to increate the camera lens.

Issure3:  Sound Analysis/ Materials/Visualization

Spatial Sound

To create an immersive sound experience, this project applies the ambisonic sound theory created by the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology, Zurich University of the Arts. In their discourse, Ambisonics Spatialization Tools for Max/MSP, it states that when creating the ideal immersive sound environment, the sound waves will emit in a spherical space harmonics, which they called Ambisonic(see image below).

In the field of sound, the volume and channels of sound are strongly bonded to the positions between the listener and the sound sources. In this sound field, different sound waves may cancel or reinforce each other; the sound waves come from different directions and merge at some special location: either the sound is disappeared when different sound waves happened to cancel with each other; on the contrary, the sound waves coheres and get even stronger.

Sound sources with different frequencies are also forming a hierarchy in this field. These sounds will co-exist since our ears can easily tell the difference between them. For example, just as hot air floats to the top of a room,  cold air sinks to the bottom. The sound that is more rhythmic or with special features, such as a sudden siren or clunking metal sound, is more obvious than sound with flat frequencies, such as the electric current noise.

Design the spatial sound

To realize this spatial sound feature, I used A-frame sound library to build the acoustic sound space, mimicking the real hearing experience. A-frame is an open-source web XR framework. It is based on Three.js a Web 3D library based on Javascript.Once the sound has been started in an aframe scene, it will generate a distance calculation between itself and our location to determine how loud we cloud to hear the sound. Another significant feature is that when we walk around the sound with headphones plugged in, we cloud easily detect the left-to-right channel shift.

Sound Analysis

New York has become the noisiest city globally.The richness of soundscapes brings the advance to collect different noises. Its falling and rising sirens and traffic noise have raised the sound spectrum to an elevated level as people have become used to this noise as part of their quotidians. However, besides that noise, the city is full of street music, talking, speeches, and vivid living noise, which turned itself into a large auditorium library. They suddenly jump into an interesting and unique sound to break everyday life and create their open narratives. In the article, the author describes that city soundscapes have these features: some sounds have a noticeable foreground, background, perspective, and movement.

It is easy to read from these spectrum images that the left two sound is less on dampness and reverbs than the right two. But they are more rhythmic than the two soundtracks shown on the left.

As another important part of the AR interaction, the visual patterns will finally be determined by the qualities of sound. The following steps demonstrate how I visualized the sound to match the quality of sound to the color of A-tags.
A-tags will reflect the properties of a sound. Let me explain it in the following part.

Such categories become an efficient way for me to tag the key features of the noise sound that I collected:

For instance, if the sound is related to waterworks, such as sewer pipe sound; or formed in the space with rich reverbs, like a large water storage tank, then I will tag these sounds with blue A-tags, to mark their water-like qualities. If they are like, the blub sound that I mentioned, with the features of high frequency buzzing, I can tag these sounds by using the orange tags, to show their electric current features. If the sound comes from the friction with air and infrastructures or pipes, usually are plastic water sewer, these could be tagged as with plastics features, such A-tags are yellow(oil and gas)and purple (reclaimed water, muddy feeling). Lastly, some sounds with metal properties (bouncy, high reverb, strident clinks of construction works), could be tagged with the powerful orange color, with the meaning of communication, alarms, and warnings.

To embed the ambesonic sound to this project, I found aframe has its own sound function to make the spatial sound feasible in a browser. 

A-tags& Visualization

As another important part of the AR interaction, the visual patterns will finally be determined by the qualities of sound. The following steps demonstrate how I visualized the sound to match the quality of sound to the color of A-tags.

Finally, I used Shader-Park-Core as the 3D library to build the sound-reactive shader.

To determine the color, shine, and metal of a sound, here I used three Shader-Park defined functions to generate the materials for the 3D sound sculpture. In the image below, it shows how to use shine(), metal(), and occlusion() functions to make a series of materials transit from metal to chalk.

Besides, with the input() function in Shader-park, it is easy to define customized variables such as time and sound features. So that it can acquire the sound volume or frequency values from a frame sound object, and relate the 3D visualization to a sound-reactive or sound-driven form. For example:

In the ShaderPark, it converts the GLSL shader into simple javascript. If I want to apply the above values to the shapes, I can simply do it this way:

Finally we will get these sound-reactive shaders.By applying sound analysis, we can input the value to these shaders, so that it will make these objects audio-responsive.