In order to get the best possible user experience and game design we have drafted over and over again the rules and screens that will assemble the Soundscape app. 
Check out these very raw sketches of our app that lead to the game design of our app:
General Android knowledge - Check!
Basic proof of concept game - Check!
Now it is time to start thinking about how we are going to spread the joy!

We have spent the last few days thinking, designing and researching the principles of communication between a client and a server. Registration, authentication, communication (and many other words ending with "ation"!) are an essential part of projects these days and a whole new world at that.

So we set up a server at home and currently playing with it in order to learn how to work with it.
Join us next week for some more exciting news! :)
After last week's successful POC, this week we set out to take the wonderful design sketches we have and turning them into a live app that will demo the GUI of our game. After a furious week of coding, setting aside the actual functionality behind each screen, we have an app that allows a user to experience the core aspects of our game
It is finally time to start bringing our vision to life! After a long week of reading up on the Android SDK, we are starting to lay the foundations for the project. This past weekend was a long coding marathon to get a small technological proof of concept running. Our main goal of taking the core technical features of our program and bringing them to life was achieved - we have a working Android app that can record up to 20 seconds of sound and additionally acquire a GPS lock!
In order to find out what is the difficulty level of recording each sound, we went to check it with the help of 10 anonymous students. We gave them a list of sounds and ask them to sort it from very easy to super hard.  

Our main problem in the last project was that the user didn't have any motivation to record the sounds. Here we addressing that issue by developing a game app which defines the recording activity as a way to progress in the game. According to Caillois (1961), a game is an activity that is voluntary and enjoyable, separate from the real world, uncertain, unproductive in that the activity does not produce any goods of external value, and governed by rules. This game, enhances the intrinsic motivation of the user to record the sounds and therefore to contribute sounds into our database. Intrinsic motivation refers to doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable (Deci & Ryan, 2000). In our game, the recording tasks will be presented as challenges in a range of difficulty levels, so the user will be able to choose the task according to his own abilities; from very easy to very difficult. Having challenges in the game is an important matter when developing a game (Malone & Lepper, 1987). 

Each and every time we would discuss about the concept and main features of Soundscape, we got stuck with the same question, over and over again: Why would anyone use it?

After consulting with different people, we wanted to examine a new way to motivate users to record sounds around them. We decided that the best way to motivate someone to do something is by challenging him- so we went for a game app that challenges people to record sounds.

When starting our game design we found it best to rely on games that we already know they work- and so we decided to create a sound version of the OMG Pop mega hit Draw Something. The rules will be pretty simple- you challenge your friend to a dual of finding and recording original urban sounds. Here are a few initial mockups of the game: 

The questionnaire was distributed online to 106 anonymous participants via Facebook. It examined two main aspects: 
1) The degree of which people is aware to urban sounds. 
2) The ability and the desire of people to tag their emotions to a specific sound.

The most interesting result regarded to the question: “How do you prefer to tag your emotion?” it seems that most of the people preferred tagging their emotions through word bank, and all the participants wanted to tag their emotion and identified with that need.

Soundscape is based on the proven model of user-created content that fuels large social, data-driven projects such as Wikipedia, and Waze [1].  We think of it as draw something for sounds.

As a content driven project, Soundscape provides the ability to visualize information about sounds and emotions, displaying information from trends in large social groups to personal information to each user on a map. We anticipate that large content contributors will comprise about 12% of our total user community, just as Wikipedia article authors and Waze [1] reporters are about 1% [2] of their respective user base, while the other 99% will be passive users who simply consume the content, not create it.

Content contributors will be individuals who are highly interested in the subject, motivated to help the mapping effort, whereas content consumers will be able to use the information for a variety of different applications, for example official city planners using the information to manage noise pollution in areas or account for effects of bus routes in residential neighborhoods.

This content will be shared in a manner similar to Waze [1]  displayed directly on a map. Tags of different sounds and their accompanying emotions will be displayed on the map, just as traffic jams and road hazards are displayed on Waze [1].

The individual experience will resemble a user’s experience on Instagram – to the single user, Soundscape will provide another way to document their urban experiences with others by incorporating a new sense and opening up a new medium – recording sounds, and emotions and visualizing the information on a map.

We anticipate that only a small percentage of tagged sounds will be relevant and useful to a large-scale mapping effort, however sounds that receive many tags from the same area will reflect the actual state of urban sounds. 

1 .Waze is a free social mobile app that enables drivers to build and use live maps, real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn navigation for an optimal commute

2. (The 1% rule states that the number of people who create content on the Internet represents approximately of the people actually viewing that content)
We hope that the maps and visualizations provided by Soundscape will increase citizens’ awareness of their urban acoustical environment, on both a personal and city-wide level. Hopefully the content made available by Soundscape will improve peoples’ lives, however marginally, by bringing an important issue to their awareness and providing a platform to understand the problem and devise solutions to deal with it.

We see Soundscape as the base platform for sound/acoustic applications across the globe, by providing a large database with tools to access the vast amounts of information easily. Possible applications include:
  • Data-mining applications: The past decades have seen a massive shift in the way data is examined. Patterns are not discovered from small data samples, rather society has become massively data-centric, with huge amounts of data being subjected to analysis yielding results and patterns not apparent on smaller scales. The nature of Soundscape’s data collection will create ample opportunities for data-mining applications, from real-estate “sound ratings” of different neighborhoods to applications that plot running routes across the city according to the types of sounds or moods requested along the route.

  •  Technological advancement – by aggregating large amounts of sounds already identified and tagged according to sounds heard in each recording, Soundscape’s database can provide a platform for studying or even a basis for noise recognition algorithms.