Hear Us Here – Amsterdam to Austin

Interesting development today. Out of the blue, we received an email from a Dutch interaction designer who has just launched a GPS- and beacon-based project in Amsterdam called HearUsHere.

First off, she has an extraordinary name—Klasien van de Zandschulp. She contacted us to ask to join our SXSW panel. Second, who would have thought to ask to join a pre-existing SXSW panel?! It's an audacious idea—steal it! (Turns out SXSW allows panels to add speakers well into December.) Third, her public location-based project shares Asunder’s ethos—spaces, expressive tech, collaboration! Lastly, her project recently launched, so I’m sure she can teach us a ton about what works and what to avoid.

Klasien’s app focuses on sound—field recordings, soundscapes, and spoken word. I like the way that HearUsHere fades sounds in and out based on proximity.

HearUsHere uses GPS/beacon coordinates to place sounds and an adjustable radius towards every sounds to change volume when you are within the radius of the sound. Sounds can overlap when they are close to each other. This way you can compose your own audio experience of the city, you create 'fade in' and 'cross fades' yourself by changing location.

I’m also impressed by the UI. By locating the user on a map and letting them simply “start” the experience and navigate the space, they have created an interface that is effective and unobtrusive. Your phone remains in your pocket and out of sight—praise the Lord!

Another great thing about HearUsHere is that its code is open source. We considered doing with Asunder and might still do...

Perhaps what is most exciting to me about Klasien’s email is that it validates of a pet theory of mine. My theory is that when you pursue personal projects (“passion projects,” if you will) and put them out in the world (aka, the Internet), unexpected and interesting things happen. The people you would love to meet find you. The opportunities you chased come knocking at your door. It’s quite exhilarating! And addictive...

Oscar Wilde wrote, “to be intelligible is to be found out.” To pursue passion projects is also to be found out. Mikal Hart expresses this serendipity better than anyone else I’ve heard. I highly recommend his amazing Creative Mornings presentation.