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Here’s a lovely thing. Vincent Akkermans created this back in 2011 (which is when I took the video, at one of the Dorkbot London events [Dorkbot #76] which happened to be very conveniently hosted at QMUL where I work).

A specially made toy aeroplane has been augmented with a range of sounds that are played depending on what the mini aircraft is actually doing. If it’s at rest on a flat surface it plays sounds of being at an airport, so you can hear general crowd hubbub. If you pick it up it plays the sounds of engines switching on and revving up, if it’s launched it plays the sound of engines in flight and when it lands it lets out a little celebratory sound and announces that it’s safely reached its destination. As you can see from the video below it’s really rather delightful. The sounds don’t come from the plane itself of course, but from a computer that’s in contact with it and has the library of sounds.

The aircraft is fitted with an accelerometer which lets the computer know how fast the aircraft is moving (and if it is moving) and, if I understand correctly, this information is transmitted to the computer via an Arduino equivalent called a Jeenode.

The first video is the one I took, at Dorkbot, the second is Vincent’s own video.

Jet Sounds - Vincent Akkermans' audio enhanced paper aeroplane at #dorkbotlondon76

If you click through to the first video on Flickr there is some more explanation in the comments and Vincent’s added a link to his page, which is currently not working very well – I’m getting a warning not to visit the page… http://vincentakkermans.me/projects/7/

But typing that URL into Google and viewing the cached page seems safe enough, so more details are available here http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:pLqr0tr-mlMJ:https://ack-err.net/projects/7/

“Instead of sonifying the telemetry data directly I chose to detect the different stages of flight (lying still, being picked up, being thrown, cruising, landing, and lying still again) and play sound samples representing the stages, such as the jet engine revving up and the squealing of the tires upon landing.”

As I understand it ‘sonifying the telemetry data’ would mean that as position-changing data comes in from the aircraft to the computer different sounds would have to play to reflect this – a bit complicated and much simpler to pick a few states (the stages of flight mentioned in the quote) and apply sounds to those instead.