Upcylcing Android Phones into Embedded Audio Platforms

Victor Zappi; Carla Sophie Tapparo
DAFx-2023 - Copenhagen
There are millions of sophisticated Android phones in the world that get disposed of at a very high rate due to consumerism. Their computational power and built-in features, instead of being wasted when discarded, could be repurposed for creative applications such as musical instruments and interactive audio installations. However, audio programming on Android is complicated and comes with restrictions that heavily impact performance. To address this issue, we present LDSP, an open-source environment that can be used to easily upcycle Android phones into embedded platforms optimized for audio synthesis and processing. We conducted a benchmark study to compare the number of oscillators that can be run in parallel on LDSP with an equivalent audio app designed according to modern Android standards. Our study tested six phones ranging from 2014 to 2018 and running different Android versions. The results consistently demonstrate that LDSP provides a significant boost in performance, with some cases showing an increase of more than double, making even very old phones suitable for fairly advanced audio applications.