November 2003, Issue 63

Published by Sonaris Consulting, Felix Bopp, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
[formerly Music for New Media Newsletter]

You can find the online version at:


Scientific findings: Ultrasonic Sound, Discovery of Sound in the Sea, Underwater Acoustics: Home-made Hydrophone Kit, Into a Wild Sanctuary
For the blind or deaf
: Batcane
Artificial Intelligence: The AI Lectures from Tokyo: An Experiment in Global Teaching
Showcased at Ars Electronica 2003
: Processing, CodePlay @ UMe, Studio 31 (A) / Sounddesign
Conferences & events
Subscription & feedback

: Scientific findings

Ultrasonic Sound
The term "ultrasonic" applied to sound refers to anything above the frequencies of audible sound, and nominally includes anything over 20,000 Hz. Frequencies used for medical diagnostic ultrasound scans extend to 10 MHz and beyond.

Sounds in the range 20-100kHz are commonly used for communication and navigation by bats, dolphins, and some other species. Much higher frequencies, in the range 1-20 MHz, are used for medical ultrasound. Such sounds are produced by ultrasonic transducers. A wide variety of medical diagnostic applications use both the echo time and the Doppler shift of the reflected sounds to measure the distance to internal organs and structures and the speed of movement of those structures. Typical is the echocardiogram, in which a moving image of the heart's action is produced in video form with false colors to indicate the speed and direction of blood flow and heart valve movements. Ultrasound imaging near the surface of the body is capable of resolutions less than a millimeter. The resolution decreases with the depth of penetration since lower frequencies must be used (the attenuation of the waves in tissue goes up with increasing frequency.) The use of longer wavelengths implies lower resolution since the maximum resolution of any imaging process is proportional to the wavelength of the imaging wave.

Discovery of Sound in the Sea
Light travels only a few hundred meters into the ocean before it is absorbed. Sound can travel long distances and with great speed underwater. Oceanographers, submariners, whales, dolphins, seals, in short, all working or living in the ocean rely on sound to sense their surrounds, to communicate, and to navigate. This web site will introduce you to the science and uses of Sound in the Sea.

Underwater Acoustics: Home-made Hydrophone Kit
Loughborough University Underwater Acoustics Research Group: "We get many requests from the general public on how to listen to cetacean sounds (whales, dolphins and porpoises). This requires a hydrophone, a device made of one or more piezoelectric elements that can cost up to 300 pounds for a professional quality device. As a much cheaper solution for the hobbyist, we have designed a simple-to-build device using very cheap components available from many sources. Headphones / tape recorders / etc. can be connected to the output of the preamplifier circuit in order to hear / record the cetacean whistles.":
Hydrophone construction:
Preamplifier design:

cover Into a Wild Sanctuary: A Life in Music & Natural Sound
By Bernie Krause
"Into a Wild Sanctuary is one of the ten most important books ever written on the relationship between human beings and their environment as it creates astonishing new realms of knowledge. Through it we learn and hear that an exquisite symphonic landscape connecting all life to creation is being brilliantly discovered just as we unthinkingly snuff it out. An extraordinary contribution." - Paul Hawken, author The Ecology of Commerce



For tailor-made chamber music concerts, flute and English lessons visit:

: For the blind or deaf

The ‘Batcane’ has been developed using two distinct types of technology: The first is inspired by the way bats navigate in darkness. The ‘Batcane’ uses ultrasonic signals which bounce off objects present in the environment and feed information back to the cane. This covers the areas in front and, uniquely, to the head height of the user. It is the first cane which gives reliable information about obstacles at that height, such as low branches and wing mirrors on lorries.

The second new technology is tactile feedback designed to access a specific part of the brain used in mapping the surroundings. We move around in a complex environment, and the Batcane enables the visually impaired user to build a mental map of the surroundings without effort, and without resorting to auditory signals which might interfere with other sounds in the area, such as beeps from reversing vans.

The batcane is now being developed for manufacture and will be launched at the start of 2004.



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: Extra-audionary


AMBIENTE is a division of the Fraunhofer-IPSI research institute.
The scientific staff of the AMBIENTE research division has been developing human-centered technologies for work- and interaction environments for many years. This includes our previous work on interactive communications- and collaboration landscapes, so called Roomware components and smart artefacts, which are both integrated in the environment and also realized as mobile devices.

We bring together competencies from various areas of expertise, for instance computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), interaction design, human computer interaction (HCI), ubiquitous computing (UbiComp), and sensor technologies.

Members of our interdisciplinary team are computer scientists, electronic engineers, physicists, and psychologists. In cooperation with product and graphics designers as well as architects we work on the latest research topics, but we also consult and provide solutions for more practical issues.



: Artificial Intelligence

The AI Lectures from Tokyo: An Experiment in Global Teaching
Under the patronage of the universities of Beijing, Munich, Tokyo, Warsaw, and Zurich, the winter term 2003/2004 offers an exciting lecture series: "The AI Lectures from Tokyo". Starting on Tuesday, 4 November 2003 at 9:15 CET, students from five different countries will be able to participate in a global teaching experiment spanning 8 time zones.

Our goal is to establish a global community in the field of modern Artificial Intelligence. The lecture series is an ambitious attempt to communicate complex scientific material by using state-of-the-art technology. Staged in a highly interactive setting, the lectures evoke a lively and entertaining learning environment. The interplay of technology and stage engineering brings out a novel approach to distant learning, setting the ground for a successful implementation of global teaching.

The AI Lectures from Tokyo not only make the concepts of modern Artificial Intelligence available to a wide audience, but also allow the study of community formation and distant learning in an open, interactive setting.

In addition, the lecture series provides means to further explore and stimulate the potential of global communites. Students from different continents and research fields will be working together, pooling knowledge from their diverse backgrounds. The strongly interdisciplinary field of modern Artificial Intelligence will thus be the rich ground from which exciting new aspects of Cognitive Science will emerge, providing us with novel ways of approaching technological, social, and economic problems in the rapidly changing world of the 21st century.

The lectures are streamed live over the Internet:

1) Intelligence: an Eternal Conundrum? 04 Nov 2003: 08:15-10:15 CET
2) Cognition as Computation: Why Did it Fail? 11 Nov 2003: 08:15-10:15 CET
3) Embodied Intelligence: Basics 18 Nov 2003: 08:15-10:15 CET
4) Synthetic Psychology: Designing from the Bottom up 25 Nov 2003: 08:15-10:15 CET
5) Building Brains and Bodies: Artificial Neural Networks 02 Dec 2003: 08:15-10:15 CET
6) The Emergence of Intelligence: Artificial Evolution and Morphogenesis 09 Dec 2003: 08:15-10:15 CET
7) Theory of Intelligence: Design Principles for Intelligent Systems 16 Dec 2003: 08:15-10:15 CET
8) Intelligence Revisted: Achievements and Challenges 13 Jan 2004: 08:15-10:15



: Showcased at Ars Electronica 2003


Processing is a context for exploring the emerging conceptual space enabled by electronic media. It is an environment for learning the fundamentals of computer programming within the context of the electronic arts and it is an electronic sketchbook for developing ideas.

The software is currently in a prerelease stage, but bug fixes are being made as we head toward a more complete "1.0" release. Processing will be free to download and available for Mac, PC, and Linux.
Processing is currently being used at many universities and institutions including: Yale (New Haven), Columbia (New York), New York University, San Francisco Art Institute, University of California Los Angeles, Universität der Künste (Berlin), Royal College of Art (London), Universidad de Los Andes (Bogota), HyperWerk (Basel), Hongik (Seoul), Ateneo de Manila University, and more.

Processing is an open project initiated by Ben Fry and Casey Reas. It is currently developed at the MIT Media Lab, UCLA, the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, and by a group of distributed developers across the Net.

CodePlay @ UMe
These software projects by students and faculty at the University of Maine approach code as tool, content, meme and structure. They include:

“Alice”: A collaborative project based at the University of Maine, ALICE (Artificial Life Interactively Creating Emotion) can be described as a web creature, which reacts with the user by generating an emotion dependent upon the user's input. In simple terms, the user will input a web address and ALICE will react with an emotion.

“The Pool”: A project of the University of Maine's Still Water program, The Pool is a shared resource for online art, code, and texts assembled by and for students of new media. Like an Internet-based exhibition or archive, The Pool gathers information about and links to online artworks and essays on a single Web site. Like version-tracking software, The Pool also keeps track of progressive updates to code modules. And like a collection management database, The Pool tracks cross-references among these artifacts.

“Breakdown”: How do children crack cultural code, institutional code, and that of their families? In what ways do we "break down" reality and then recreate it? How do we actually do it? How do we fantasize about it? What actually changes when we start to recreate our selves and our world? How does a sense of disempowerment lead to a stronger creative life? How much power do any of us actually have?
These questions are central to a videogame work-in-progress called Breakdown begun by three New Media students at UMaine. Breakdown reveals the power issues that are in most mainstream games by actually breaking the genre. With a five-year-old girl by the name of Essien as the first person player, we begin to explore these questions central to our life and times with someone we might assume is quite powerless, but in fact, is not.

and “Internet2@UMe”: At the University of Maine, Internet2 is a being used as a broad-band protocol for connecting university artists, researchers, and faculty. As a part of MARCEL, we aspire to bring together university students and faculty from all over the world. Through Internet2, these students and faculty can engage in the exchange of ideas more easily than they would be capable of without it. Collaboration through Internet2 meets the need expressed by many for higher band-width possibilities and for a permanent "pipeline" for artistic, educational, and cultural experimentation.

Studio 31 (A) / Sounddesign
Markus Poechinger & Thomas Poetz


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Copyright © 2003 Sonaris Consulting, Felix Bopp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without written permission is prohibited. Sonaris Consulting cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of information supplied herein or for any opinion expressed.