How Does The City of Tomorrow Sound?

Wolfgang Gruel, Jonas Kieser

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Current discussions about future cities are limited to our visual senses. We see many pictures of the future that contain smart infrastructure and new vehicles. But we have more senses. So, how does the future city sound if we put new vehicles on the roads and in the air? Listen in as we experience the city of the future from an angle that you have

When we think about the city of the future, everybody has a picture in mind. We envision smart buildings, electric and autonomous vehicles, delivery drones, and sensors that collect a lot of data. But how do these cities sound?

Close your eyes and listen. Can you imagine?

Truth is, today’s cities are too loud. Research proves that noise pollution is one of the biggest health risks in city life and does devastating damage to our ecosystems. City noise isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s a serious problem that needs fixing. But do our visions of future mobility help reduce noise pollution?

On a mission to explore the city sounds of tomorrow, we recorded the everyday sounds of today’s urban life using a 3D microphone setup: Pedestrian zones, residential areas, busy intersections and highways cutting through cities. Using these real-life soundbites as a starting point, we simulated how the auditory experience will change if visions of future urban mobility come true. How does the residential area sound if drones replace the delivery truck? What would you hear if all cars were electric? If people were to use micro-scooters—not cars—for their daily commute, would that cut noise pollution?

Our soundscapes are based on scientific research on realistic sound characteristics of new mobility modes, backed up by insights from audio and automotive engineers. In our session, we will decompose the current sound of a city, show how the mobility of the future might impact what we’ll hear, and show what dials we’d have to turn to free the cities of tomorrow from acoustical litter.

Sound significantly shapes our perception of the environment and has a bigger impact on our well-being than you might think. For the discussion of future cities, we should not only think about pictures of the future, but also understand the impact of sound on us. You want to know how the city of the future sounds? Come and listen!
Project team: Jonas Kieser, Daniela Rieger, Jona Eisele, Wolfgang Gruel

Jonas Kieser Portrait
Sound Design & Audio Software Development