Per Håkan Linus Persson

PROJECTS

Project: Soundscapes
Team: Erik Melldahl
Timeframe: 10 weeks 2013

bang & olufsen

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Bang & Olufsen Soundscapes aims to explore the potential of an automotive high-end audio system. Allowing driver and passengers to become in tune and explore their environment, making the car transparent through sound.

For a long time, the car industry has almost obsessively been trying to make cars more silent inside. This is not only an issue of comfort, sound is an important part of how we navigate and experience the world around us. In this conceptual project we thought it would be fair to ask if the reason why we do not fully consider the potential of our sense of hearing in cars is due to that automotive technology so far has been noisy. Soundscapes explores a form of opposite by bringing sound in. Bang & Olufsen offers high-fidelity sound environments, what would happen if this environment was not only dedicated to play music files and increase isolation, but through sound enable people to form stronger relationships to what is going on outside of the car? and how can this be achieved without becoming intrusive?

Side View of Sound Simulator GIF

To better understand different experiences involving three-dimensional sound in relation to driving we set up a full scale sound isolated box. A prototype that allowed us to experiment with full control over both sound and visuals. Sounds could be taken in through microphones and augmented or treated to provide a set of different driving related experiences.

AUTO – Safety and sounds with a high salience, for example sirens
PASSIVE – A sound atmosphere shaped by the context outside the car
ACTIVE – Actively bringing sounds with the controller or the windows of the interior

From this platform, we devised three different modes and ways of working with sound. The first part of Soundscapes is always on and augments sounds of higher salience as they are picked up by the body of the car way before it reaches inside. This could be an ambulance coming up from behind. Since there are speakers throughout the car, sounds would be naturally direction sensitive.

The second part of the system is an ambient mode that brings in filtered sounds from all directions yet modifies them to be put in the background and shifting accordingly to the physical environment around the car. Two examples of this was the panning of sound accordingly to the road curvature ahead and for example compressing it when entering a tunnel.

The third mode is a more active approach. We found that the experience of interacting with the glass through not only touch but pressing gave the feeling of transcending the body of the car. This is one of the reasons for experimenting with extending the glass around the structure that we called the sound cage, a supporting structure that includes a set of microphones on the exterior and speakers on the inside.

For the driver the same effect was achieved by building a surface resembling the exterior glass of the vehicle. This controller allows the driver to explore and clarify sounds coming from different directions. Again, the act of not only touch but pressure was an experience that was surprisingly engaging in this dynamic and formerly isolated environment.

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Tagged under: Coding. Interaction Design. Prototyping. Team Projects.

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