Rethinking Home Audio

Tangible interaction is a subset of general interaction design practice that focuses on the physical embodiment of new behaviours and experiences that are driven by capabilities of digital media and embedded computing. It draws upon skills, tools and practices from traditional industrial design, electronics, software programming and product development. It is an young and emerging area that is a powerful combination and can shape the future of how people use and perceive technology applied in their everyday lives.

The role of audio in the home context is going through a great transformation. From the context of playing music, phone calls to watching television. There are also new forms of interaction that involve audio e.g skype/VOIP, appliances, alarms and a range of other devices at home. Infact the number of sound reproduction devices at home are so many and they are often hidden inside other objects e.g cell phone, toys, washing machine etc.

What’s interesting in this cacophony of modern sounds is that the role of music is going through sea-change. Music used to be played at home via fixed device or installation typically a record/tape/CD player. Today this has been taken over by streaming services and other forms of wireless transmission making it almost a virtual experience.

More importantly it has moved from a fixed set-up to a mobile and all pervasive presence. It’s never been easier to take music along, play it anywhere or discover new interpretations and genres. The interfaces for playback and music consumption have moved from buttons and dials to touch and clicks.

This course looked at interpreting these transformations from social, technical and personal behavioural change. This was an opportunity to explore these emergent behaviours and create new paradigm for products that don’t just address new trends but also set new benchmarks for future audio experiences.

Students were expected to deliver a prototype of an audio experience concept as a physical product. The physicality could manifest itself as a tabletop device, wearable, piece of furniture or other interpretations.

The focus was on developing artifacts that behave, react, and interact with people in a novel and meaningful way. Our focus was equally on computation or embedded intelligence as well as on human behaviour and experience that guides the design of physical form and establishes the roles an artifact will play in everyday situations.

Vinay Venkatraman, Richard Shed, David Cuartielles, Tomek Ness, Christian

Course dates: May 29th to June 22nd, 2012