The new frontier of UX is sound

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I just spent three years writing a new book explaining how sound design is critical to the success of products, environments, and experiences. When we devote so much attention to a product’s look and feel, we can easily miss the importance that audio — good and bad — can have on its overall experience. Designing with Sound brings insight from over 40 engineers, designers and scientists to an emerging landscape of sensory opportunities.

I worked with sound designer Aaron Day on the book, an engineer with two decades of experience in designing some of the most iconic sounds, from car engines to ringtones. We both agree that the opportunities of sound are just beginning. Almost everything makes a sound, and those sounds can be designed.

I wrote Designing with Sound for anyone who wants to improve on the auditory experience of a new or existing product, and for anyone who needs to determine when, where, or how sounds should be used. We also intended it as an introduction to sound design concepts that non–sound engineers can put to use. Our hope it will help encourage a better sonic experience for us all.

  • Sound is a new frontier: We’re seeing a rapid rise in voice-activated interfaces, podcasts, and acoustic awareness. From sonification in hospitals, to sorting through big data and the rise of podcasts, sound is poised to be on par with the visual experience in design.
  • Quiet is the new differentiator: Dyson engineers share how they created breakthrough products like the quiet hair dryer, and how subtractive design for vehicles can be added to new products like blenders, but there’s so much more room for quiet things, especially leafblowers, semi trucks and “smart” technologies.
  • Good sound design changes our reality: Most spaces are approved of visually, but they don’t feel good to be in. Simple audio elements can improve office spaces, hospitals and airports.

We’ll explore the book in greater depth in January with a full release, articles and excerpts, but for now, I just wanted to let you know that the book is on shelves soon, and to look for more on it in the new year!

Written by

Design advocate, speaker and author of Calm Technology + Designing With Sound. Research Fellow at Institute for the Future.

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