FAQ

What is geolocated sound and audio AR?

Geolocated sound

A soundtrack (or multiple overlapping tracks) confined within shapes on the map, which creates geofenced areas. These will trigger content when your listeners physically walk inside, using GPS or iBeacon technology. Layer sounds in subtle or rich ways, guide your audience, give them directions, surprise and entertain—a completely different way to experience our physical environment, a threshold where the magic happens ✨.

Audio AR (Augmented Reality)

Sound that layers and enriches the physical world without sucking you into your screen. Stay present, appreciate your surroundings in all its richness while experiencing the additional reality layer: learn about history, artefacts in front of you, natural environments, get lost in a treasure hunt, get spooked by a horror experience, don’t miss a landmark or an interesting corner in the city you are visiting, get guidance during an event or elevate your sport experience… 💡 the possibilities are endless.

Echoes Creator web app

What is Echoes Creator web app

The Creator is a geoCMS (geolocative content management system) that enables you to create locative experiences from scratch. There are some concepts to get your head around before starting with the Creator. The fundamental ones are Collections, Echoes, and Elements:

About walks (collections)

A walk is an audio walk, tour or any other experiences you create that contains a number of "stops" - Echoes. You can set a title, description and cover image for each walk.

Once you publish a walk anyone will be able to see, download and use it in the Echoes Explorer mobile app. We strongly recommend you write a good description of your creation and set a cover image, as this will greatly increase your exposure. You can spread the word about your piece (we even generate a unique QR code for each walk). You can also charge for your content. Get in touch with us to set this up.

There are a number of options you can set on a walk:

Publish status: controls whether the walk is visible in the app.
-- draft means it's invisible, apart from under 'walks by me' when you're signed in.
-- private means it can be shared, but won't appear in listings or searches.
-- public means it is visible in lists and searches everywhere.
Views: you can control which 'views' your walk uses. By default, the 'map' and 'list' view are active. There are three options, and you can reorder them by dragging.
-- map - the main map view, showing all the zones.
-- list - a list of all zones, with all text and images, with manual playback options.
-- immersive - a large play button with a visualisation of the zones. Great for when you want an immersive listening experience.

About echoes

An echo is a geofenced zone or a stopping point on a tour - you can choose the one that suits your type of walk better. Each echo can contain a number of elements which have media (usually sound) attached to them, as well as having a title, description and cover image. This content can then be triggered in the Explorer mobile app when a user physically gets inside and triggers the geolocated response.

Echoes can be circles or polygons. Polygons allow more flexibility with triggering, but circles allow you to use spatialization (getting louder towards the centre).

There are a few additional echoes settings options:

Hide player: stops the user from manually playing or pausing the sound.
Hide zone: hides the zone from the map, so users can’t see it or bring up details.
Trigger type: there are three options:
-- location - triggers when the user's GPS is within the boundary.
-- logic - triggers when the user's GPS is within the boundary, and all the logic conditions are fulfilled.
-- beacon - triggers when an iBeacon matching the supplied configuration is within the 'proximity trigger distance'.

About logic

We provide the opportunity to control 'triggering' of a zone with logic. GPS acts as the trigger, but only when conditions are fulfilled. The following options control how the triggering works

Set a logic type:
OR means any listed condition could be fulfilled in order to trigger
AND means all listed conditions must be fulfilled in order to trigger

Conditions:
-- Echo has played - the specified echo(es) must have played all the way through at least once.
-- Echo has triggered - the specified echo(es) must have been triggered
-- Echo has not played - the specified echo(es) must not have played all the way through
-- Echo has not triggered - the specified echo(es) must not have been triggered

About elements

An element represents a media item within an echo. Normally these are sound files.

Elements are triggered when you enter an echo (zone). You can provide a number of different options to control playback. Note that some of these options are only available on membership packages, and some might not be public yet (drop us a line if you'd like to try!).

Basic options

Play loop: loops while the listener is in the zone.
One-shot: only plays the zone once, as long as the listener plays to the end.
Play complete: always plays to the end, even if the listener leaves the echo.
Spatialization: plays louder towards the centre (don't confuse with the 3D options).
Resume: resume playing where you left off when reentering the echo.

More advanced

Fade in: control how long it takes for the sound to fade in.
Fade out: control how long it takes for the sound to fade… out.
Max volume: the relative maximum volume the sound will play at (1 is maximum). This is also affected by spatialization and 3D options.

Really advanced

Tempo sync: set which tempo sync group this element belongs to. It'll beat sync with any other sounds in that group that are playing.
Queueing: set the queue group that this sound belongs to. If another sound is playing with the same or higher priority, it'll wait until this one completes before playing.

Even more advanced

3D: sets the sound to play back using spatial audio. Each element will get its own unique position on the map. To learn more, visit our page on spatial audio
Rolloff: controls the way the volume decreases from the minimum distance towards maximum distance. The options are:
-- inverse - follows the inverse square law (quite a harsh decrease, but realistic)
-- linear - decreases evenly from max to min (same law as spatialization above)
-- linear-square - keeps the volume higher for longer, then a sharp drop at the edge
-- inverse-tapered - the classic 'S' curve. Higher at the beginning then dropping in the second half.
Minimum/maximum distance for 3D rolloff: These are the distances at which the sound reaches maximum volume, and minimum volume (the edge). These are separate from the echo zone.
Relative elevation: how 'high' the sound is above you.

About lines

Lines are currently for testing your creations. Add a new line by drawing one on the map using the line tool, making sure it passes through some of your echoes. Click the pencil icon to edit the line, and pressing the ‘play’ button will start the simulation of your walk along the line.

Members can 'publish' their lines, meaning they'll be visible in the app in the walk.

What is Echoes Creator web app?

Elements contain a piece of media. Currently, ECHOES Creator allows only sounds to be uploaded, and only one per echo. This might change in the future.

Elements have different options for setting their behaviour:

Play loop: the sound loop while the listener is inside an echo
Play complete: the sound will play to the end, even if the listener leaves the particular echo
Play once: the sound will only play once, even if the user reenters the particular echo
Spatialization: only applies to circle echoes – the sound gets louder towards the centre

How do I add content?

Creating a walk

Start by creating a collection (aka audio walk) in the Creator web app. Choose a location on the map or search for a location in the search bar. Add an echo using the + button (or draw on the map in the more recent versions of the Creator) in the echoes panel. This action will add an echo and centre it in the middle of the map. Reposition the echo to where you would like it. Click the ‘edit’ button on the echo in the list, which will open up a dialogue. Click the + button in the bottom right to add an element. Then you can use the menu bar on the element to upload a sound. 

About mp4/m4a file encoding

Unless you have one of our memberships, we only allow upload of mp4 audio files (MPEG-4) encoded as AAC (Advanced Audio Coding).

Our membership options give online conversion from virtually any audio file type, allowing you flexibility when uploading.

There are many sound editors which allow export. A simple encoder is Macroplant Adapter, which is free, and available on Mac and PC. Just select Audio > AAC and it will output m4a files. Just rename to mp4 and upload.

Please just make sure you are not encoding as Apple Lossless Audio or Apple MPEG-4 audio. If you do, they are incompatible with android, and they also may not play back on the web.

n.b. There is a standards conflict with m4a. Apple defined their own standard which has the extension m4a, and the MPEG alliance also decided that mp4 could also have the extension m4a, denoting 'audio only'. So you can have two files with identical file extensions that are not interoperable – one proprietary, only working on Apple devices, and one open standard. So please be careful when encoding. Our memberships also support online conversion from most major formats.

Working with GPS recordings (GPX and KML files)

In order to get really accurate triggering for your experiences, it can be useful to rely on actual GPS coordinates instead of just our maps.

Recording your GPS and importing to the Echoes Creator allows you to visualise the exact GPS coordinates your device is reporting. You can then place zones directly on top of that path. Note that recording GPS on one device does not necessarily give you accurate results for all devices. There may be significant discrepancy because of:

  • Differences in GPS chips between android and iOS
  • Differences in GPS chips between different android devices (less so on iOS)
  • Line of sight to the sky
  • Weather conditions
  • Having airplane mode activated (GPS will work, but not as accurately in urban areas)
  • Lack of other signals (cell tower, wifi, bluetooth)
  • Time with GPS activated (longer is better)

You can record GPS as a GPX (or KML file) with a number of different apps. Try searching in the store for 'GPS Recorder' or 'GPX' or use one of the following: Strava, myTracks (iOS only), Kinetic GPS (iOS only), GPS Logger (android only), Garmin GPX (android only) and many more.

After recording and exporting to a GPX file, you can upload to the Creator by going to 'Lines' and tapping 'Import KML/GPX file' and following the instructions.

Video workshop on ECHOES

Get a really in-depth visual overview of how to create content on ECHOES with this workshop by LAStheatre, presented by Neverthere and Bath Spa Productions.

Soundwalking for Composers Workshop

An in-depth workshop on the creation of soundwalks, aimed at composers (but not exclusively). Organised by Sound and Music.

What are spatial audio, 3D audio, and ambisonics?

Spatial audio

Spatial audio refers to sound which appears to come from around you. This covers 3D audio and ambisonics. Read more on our page on spatial audio.

3D audio

This is also synonymous with spatial audio, but we usually use it to refer to 'sound objects' which are distinct in 3D space, each object having a position around the listener. Read more on our page on spatial audio.

Ambisonics

This is specially-captured sound, either recorded using a special microphone array or created artificially in a studio. It captures a complete sphere of sound around a listener, in a similar way to 360º video. Read more on our page on spatial audio.

Right, I finished it. How do I publish my collection (walk)?

Publishing

Changing the Publish Status to ‘Public’ means the walk will be available in the ECHOES Explorer mobile app for everyone. We rely on you not publishing test material – we want to keep all walks as high quality as possible.

To run a test with a set of users, set the Publish Status to 'Private' and share the link to the walk which is available in the creator via the QR code button. Anyone who has the link and the app installed can open the link and it will open the walk in the app.

Having an idea and unsure how to get it off the ground?

Let’s chat and so we can help you get started

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