In our everyday work and throughout the sound interaction design process, we are often challenged by the lack of the exploratory methodologies for involving human insights early on in the sound interaction design process. In SIIC we utilised methods from all the stages of design thinking to investigate the less explored modality and show that it is worth to think sound early in the design process.
Interviews: How does your commute sound like?
We interviewed 20 people asking about their commute or a memorable trip. We focused on the emotional and sensorial aspect of their travels to understand what shapes their experiences and how could we support the wanted parts and improve the one which is troublesome. Below is one example with the interview insights and our analysis with opportunities and findings.
From the interviews, three behaviours emerged which then served as an input for sound design.
This is about the feeling of being “the master of one´s domain” – not to be controlled by anyone, to control your own pace, even though it might take longer to reach the goal. Time efficiency is not the key here, but the sensation of always being in control. During the mastering behaviour you want to know what is going on right now.
This is a way of driving that is not relaxed or joyful – the driving is taking the attention. Driving is not something wanted, but a hassle that needs to be taken care of for the means of transportation. The cautious wants to know both will happen and why it will happen, they also want an explanation for what just happened a moment ago.
The worker wants to be able to ignore the surrounding and the handling of the car and get on with their work. They want to spend time on productive work instead of wasting the time.
Sensory Ethnography and Soundwalk
A key aspect of sensory ethnography is to carry out research in collaboration with people and explore the tacit, non-verbalised and normally unspoken ways of knowing and going about the mundane elements of everyday life. Being part of the actual moment when the observed behaviour happens, helps researchers to go beyond the surface and immerse into hidden, mundane aspects of experiences that are often habitual or are simply difficult to talk about. What is often difficult to verbalise might range from experiencing or ways of knowing about environments, atmospheres, articulating feelings and sensations and the ways these inform everyday practices. In our work, we were particularly keen to explore how experiences of already existing urban soundscapes can inform us about designing what we call intuitive or immersive sounds for future AD concepts. Here, sound – in the form of soundscapes – becomes a medium and research tool we acquire knowledge through instead of providing a deliverable.
- Walk and focus on the soundcape you are hearing. Try to not talk to others and write down all the thoughts on your phone/notebook.
- Are there any sounds which help you make any decisions, sounds which were interesting or annoying, sounds that made you change your path, sounds that you didn’t understand, sounds bringing memories, how do your footsteps sound…
- What is important while being part of the big picture, as a pedestrian, as a person interacting with the cars around? Think what is important to hear and when.
- First and foremost, listen.
Imagine an exercise where you, as an UXer, designer or developer would like to sonify a use case of entering a highway and merging in traffic in autonomous car. The exploration of user needs within SIIC project showed that potentially beneficial for the users of autonomous cars would be to present the car’s intentions. The users who might experience low level of trust and acceptance for this technology will need reassurance that the car ‘knows what is doing’ and preparation for the manoeuvres. With that information we performed a quick and dirty vocalisation session (4 participants). The outcome of the vocalisation session contained both presentation of the sketches and feedback on the character and intention of the sounds. The big advantage is the ‘sketchiness’ of the sound, which helps to discuss the intention of sound rather than its aesthetics.
Check out a short audio clips made by Keezy app and some fun pictures of how we worked.