Instrument of Air Quality

SoundSorial is a wearable instrument that creates audio scape based on particulate matter in the surrounding environment. Our goal was to create a portable device that would allow the user to sense air quality information in a way that promotes mindfulness. We utilized the form of a pair of headphones in order to keep the device inconspicuous. However, the function of SoundSorial is to turn the wearer’s attention toward the environment rather than to provide entertainment or distraction. We have exhibited this project at NYC Media Lab's Future Interface event. See the event images here.

Team: Yuchen Zhang, Natasha Lewandrowski, Agustin Crawford (Nevaris)


We were influenced by the idea of Dérive, a method of exploration popularized by Guy Debord of the Situationist art movement. A derive is a sort of drifting walk through the city in which participants attempt to let go of their usual motivations and allow themselves to be guided by the psychogeographic contours of the city. We were inspired by this because air pollution also creates invisible boundaries within a city.

Before we were settled on the final form of the device, we went through 3 rounds of prototyping with different materials.

Below shows the tools that we have used in making this device.

In order to create a device that looks close related to nature, we decided on using wood as the enclosure of the product. Below shows how we laser cut sheets of wood and layer them on top of each other to create a three dimensional object.

SoundSorial from Yuchen Zhang on Vimeo.