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When Nature Enhances Play in Nature: ListenTree

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While digital and virtual play offer many advantages, our devices compress a wealth of information into displays that make use of a very limited subset of our sensorimotor capabilities. Meanwhile, nature play has been largely praised for being an ideal environment where we can use all our senses. Integrating computing power into the environment allows us to embed information into the material of the world, opening new opportunities for grounded networked play. This article proposes that the integration of information in the natural and built environment can take on a new meaning when paired with social mechanisms, cultural value and symbolic meaning. ListenTree, an audio-haptic display embedded in a tree is discussed as an example of a new form of display in the natural environment. An audio exciter transducer is weatherproofed and attached to the underground portion of a tree trunk, transforming the tree into a living speaker that channels audio through its branches. Our intervention is motivated by a need for seamless displays that support curiosity-driven exploration and require us to be present, attentive, and mindful.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2021

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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