Faced with a brief about explaining something digital that is omnipresent in our everyday life in a way that could both engage and benefit kids, the group chose Audio – and how it is represented in the digital world. The aim was to demonstrate how audio went from analogue to digital.

After a few iterations of a process including brainstorming, sketching and quick prototyping, the interface started to take shape. It was deliberately retro, in keeping with old analogue systems, and included certain human-like features. The displays can be seen as eyes and a nose, the speaker as a mouth and the microphone is in the ear.

The end result was MrMimic. MrMimic listens to everything that goes on around him and displays analogue input as a waveform. When a recording is made, MrMimic waits patiently, then takes the audio recording on a journey from analogue to digital and back again. A recording starts playing back continuously as soon as it has been made. The playback does not stop until someone records something else.

While the recording is played back, its journey from audio to digital is visualised. Looking at MrMimic you still see the analogue input on the left display. The middle display shows a snapshot of the audio’s binary representation and the right displays a more descriptive format of the audio’s now digitalised form: a spectrum.

The user can slow down and speed up the playback, using a slider situated next to the record button. These changes are instantly visualised on the displays. MrMimic’s ear also hears the output and updates its analogue display accordingly – thereby completing the audio’s transformation from analogue to digital and back again.

MrMimic went from brief to concept to design to implementation in just four days.