Action Audio

Brief Description

In any given situation, there will be multiple auditory channels reaching the ear. However, we are able to focus our attention on one of them. The remaining auditory channels are typically monitored in the periphery of our attention. In other words, we do not have to pay specific attention to them, but if something unusual happens, our attention immediately shifts. For example, when driving a car, one will normally focus the attention on the road, the radio, or the conversation with passengers. However, when the engine suddenly makes an unusual noise, the attention immediately switches to this sound. In other words, the sound of the engine that is normally in the periphery of the attention shifts to the foreground. The same thing will happen when you hear someone say your name.

In this project, you will explore how you can leverage the above described auditory perception skills in interaction design. The goal of this project is to design a system that subtly provides relevant information via short auditory cues in the home environment. These auditory cues can be connected to everyday objects. For example; what if the refridgerator tells us what is in it whenever we open it, or the door-knob tells us if it is going to rain when we open the front door?

Objectives / Specifics

(project objectives; learning goals)
In this project, it is expected that the student(s) will go through an exploratory, iterative design process, in which several ideas and concepts are evaluated, before developing a final design. This means quickly start exploring with different sounds and their potential mapping to selected information. Experiment with these initial designs in the context of use and use the gathered knowledge to improve your design. The final design should be developed into a working prototype and evaluated in a user study.
Parts of the project can be done individually if desired


The following deliverables are expected:
– overview of different concepts including intended sound design
– working prototype of a final concept
– reported user study evaluating the final concept
– a movie illustrating the final concept

Information Sources

[1] Eggen, B. and Mensvoort, K. van. Making Sense of What Is Going on ‘Around’: Designing Environmental Awareness Information Displays. In Awareness Systems. 2009, 99-124.
[2] Gaver, W.W. What in the World Do We Hear? An Ecological Approach to Auditory Event Perception. Ecological Psychology 5, 1 (1993), 1-29.
[3] Oleksik, G., Frohlich, D., Brown, L.M., and Sellen, A. Sonic interventions: understanding and extending the domestic soundscape. Proceeding of the twenty-sixth annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, ACM (2008), 1419-1428.

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