Free App, PhonoPaper, Lets You Create & Play ‘Audio Barcodes’

Developer Alexander Zolotov has introduced a new app that explores using graphics as tool for manipulating sound, PhonoPaper.

PhonoPaper is a free platform for representing sounds as graphics. It combines a PhonoPaper-code generator to convert sounds into images that you can print on paper and a realtime reader that runs on smartphones (iOS & Android).

Because PhonoPaper turns audio into a tangible object, it lets you tangibly control playback. You control playback speed by the way you move the smartphone ‘playback head’. You can play it forward, backward or ‘scratch’ it. 

Here’s a demo of recording and printing an ‘audio barcode’, and then playing it back:


  • PhonoPaper-code is analogue, so it is not so sensitive to different types of the image distortion (bad camera, dark picture, wrinkled paper, etc.); at least you will hear the “silhouette” of the original sound;
  • PhonoPaper does not require access to the network; its code is self-contained;
  • PhonoPaper-code can be played in real-time with hand-controlled speed and direction;
  • PhonoPaper-code can be drawn by hand (paper version of the Virtual ANS synth);
  • PhonoPaper is free.

Examples of usage:

  • voice messages (or pieces of music) on the billboards, posters, postcards, goods;
  • audio labels for phonorecords;
  • audio examples in some textbooks;
  • art-experiments;
  • learning the basics of the spectral music.

An Android version is available now and an iOS version is expected to be available in a few days. See the developer’s site for more info.

12 thoughts on “Free App, PhonoPaper, Lets You Create & Play ‘Audio Barcodes’

  1. Ok…. so everbody could make a unique kind of jingle from his fingerprint. His DNA-Sound-Fx 🙂

    It’s kind of a fascinating different technological approach, but from the producer and performer view, I just cant find any benefit in that apart from being interesting and funny.

    Nevertheless still impressive from the IT view. Thumbs up for developing such app.

  2. Genial app! Best use for it would be to go back in time during the Cold War and work as a spy and use this to send secret messages. “Hey guys, yeah try to break this code. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not ‘connect the dots’.”
    Joking aside I could see a possible use for it live during an experimental music show. The wave codes could be shown on a projector screen. Or perhaps be used in scavenger hunts throughout a city, like “hmm it sounds like the central station voice lady announcing an incoming train, the next clue should be there.”

  3. I’d like to think that something really interesting happens if you rotate the paper through 180 degrees and play it back upside-down…

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