Melodious Walkabout

Listen to your favorite music while being navigated

Implicit Navigation with Contextualized Audio Contents (Diploma Thesis)


Introduction - Scenario - Design - Evaluation - Publications - Press Coverage


A variety of navigation systems have been developed that use a GUI-based interaction style. However visual navigation systems are often inappropriate in the dynamic mobile context since the user has to watch the device and cannot keep his eyes on his surrounding environment. Auditory navigation systems are more convenient, mobile users can easily interact with the system and are not visually distracted. But most auditory systems navigate the traveler by using precise spoken instructions and speech requires high attention.

The approach of Melodious Walkabout is that explicit instructions are not necessary to navigate a person. Melodious Walkabout is a wearable system that implicitly guides a user by providing him with awareness where the destination is located. It navigates users in a completely new way. It doesn’t use speech and allows the user to listen to his own audio contents while being aware of the location of the destination.


Joy is located in the middle of a huge unknown town. She faces the everyday problem to find the way from one place to another. Usually she starts asking people for the way, struggles with maps and finally panics. This time it is different - Joy puts on headphones and selects her destination and favorite songs on her Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). The music begins to play and Joy follows the music through the city. After listening a couple of her favorite songs Joy arrives in best mood at the destination.



Melodious Walkabout is a PDA-based auditory navigation system. It provides a mobile user with awareness where the destination is located by contextualizing audio contents the user is listening to. The mobile user wears headphones and hears audio contents that reach him from a certain direction. The direction of the virtual sound source unobtrusively tells him in which direction to go. An important feature of Melodious Walkabout is, that it can be used with any audio content. This gives the user the opportunity to listen to audio contents he likes to, while at the same time being aware of the direction and distance of the destination.

Melodious Walkabout consists of three main components:
1. A Bluetooth GPS-receiver for determining the traveler’s position and movement.
2. A Geographical Information System (GIS)
3. An Auditory Display that renders personal audio contents in real-time



A formal evaluation under field conditions proved that navigation with contextualized audio contents is efficient and intuitively understandable. Users were highly satisfied with the navigation support given by the evaluated navigation system.

Melodious Walkabout

Melodious Walkabout is the diploma thesis of Richard Etter in computer science in media at Furtwangen University of Applied Sciences. I designed, developed and evaluated the system at Fraunhofer Institute of Applied Information Technology. My thesis supervisor at Fraunhofer was Dr. Marcus Specht


(Pictures by Bastian Zapf)


>>> Melodious Walkabout - Konzeption, Entwicklung und Evaluation eines Systems zur impliziten Navigation von Personen mit kontextualisierten Audioinhalten (Diploma Thesis), University of Applied Sciences Furtwangen, 2005

>>> Melodious Walkabout - Implicit Navigation with Contextualized Personal Audio Contents, Adjunct Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Pervasive Computing, ISBN 3-85403-191-2, pdf

>>> Din A1 Poster Melodious Walkabout, Third International Conference on Pervasive Computing, pdf

Press Coverage Melodious Walkabout

>>> Melodious Walkabout in BPM, HOLLYWOOD, USA
I have been interviewed by BPM, America’s leading journal covering the electronic lifestyle. Michael J. Cervieri wrote a great article about my thesis Melodious Walkabout. They also created an excellent artwork for the article. BPM has a readership of about 350000.


>>> Melodious Walkabout was selected for the 15 year celebration of the faculty Digital Media, Press Release of Furtwangen University of Applied Sciences (German)

>>> Fraunhofer Institute FIT presented Melodious Walkabout at LEARNTEC, the European Conference and Specialist Trade Fare for Educational and Information Technology.

>>> Melodious Walkabout was presented at CeBIT, the world’s largest trade show for information and telecommunications technology by Fraunhofer Institute FIT.

>>> GEAR live: “Melodious Walkabout Auditory Navigation System”

>>> Near Near Future:“PDA-based auditory navigation system”

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