Monday, December 10, 2012

Role of Sound in Interaction Design

The inappropriate or excessive use of sound can annoy the user. Therefore, understanding the situations under which audio is the most appropriate is important for creating a good user experience. The advantages of sound include:
  • Promoting safety:  The use of audio can support human performance in situations where the visual channel is overloaded. For example, GPS systems that talk certainly have an edge over those that do not because the former has the potential to help drivers allocate their visual resources to the primary task of driving, which puts a lot of burden on the visual system.
  •  Creating more use involvement:  Sound is an excellent addition in games and simulators to create a sense of ‘presence’.
  • Delivering emotion: Adding good audio has the potential to give a more human touch to products that users interact with.

Several companies are now incorporating sound into their product design.
  • This article describes how GE is incorporating sound into their appliance design. You can listen to the soundtracks here.
  • Ford is pursuing the idea of using sound in their electric cars to warn pedestrians of an approaching electric vehicle. You can listen to the sounds here
      Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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