Art Engine and City of Ottawa Public Art Program

Review, App Development, UI, UX
Unity, iOS, Android

To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary the City of Ottawa and transit provider OC Transpo wanted to provide unique and engaging experiences for local residents. To help make sure the end product functioned well the City enlisted Karman to provide technical consultation when evaluating proposals and to play a role in building the end product.

Ultimately, the artist collective Art Engine was selected with the plan to design and build an app that would allow transit riders to listen to purpose written music that matched iconic bus routes around the capital. With rich visuals, procedurally generated elements, and technical challenge Karman was the perfect fit for this project.

Sonicity merged music app with portable artistic installation, allowing Ottawa city’s bus riders to experience their commute with music tailored to their surroundings.


  1. Native Playback. Playing multi hour long tracks wasn’t going to be possible from Unity. We’d have to leverage the native playback functionality on iOS and Android.
  2. Visualizing GTFS Data. OC Transpo provides all of their route data in the GTFS format. We had to parse the data into a more useful format to generate the route visuals and the closest routes to users.
  3. Creating a Platform. With plans to expand the catalogue of tracks and routes constantly changing we had to make sure adding and updating tracks would take as little effort as possible.


To set the look and feel of the app Art Engine worked with graphic designer Simon Guibord to design a title screen, playback visuals and icon. From there it was up to Karman to run with the style and build out the UX and UI for the rest of the experience.

  • Art engine was really happy with the design and quality of effects
  • Efficient workflow to add more tracks.
  • Karman developed an efficient workflow to add more tracks in the future and update tracks as OC Transpo made changes
  • Custom script to turn GTFS data into route visual and an efficient format for users to find the routes closest to them with minimal effort

Was able to leverage the efficient audio playback of native code while using Unity to quickly produce rich visuals for iOS and Android.

On a tight schedule Karman delivered the app to both iOS and Android app stores in time for the Canada Day celebrations. Art Engine was pleased with the final result with plans to expand the app throughout 2017 and 2018. We’re excited to see where they take the concept next!


If you liked what you saw, check out some of our other projects.

  • Sonicity
    Art Engine


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    Watch Faces by Hyperflow

  • PCH Lotto Blast
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    PCH Lotto Blast


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