Sketching Audio Technologies using Vocalizations and Gestures



Humans live immersed in a sonic world. Most of the objects or other animals we interact with have sonic manifestations that we naturally exploit for monitoring purposes, or to guide our actions. Even though acoustic pollution is a problem in modern societies, we can not reasonably think of living in a silent world. Conversely, we should aim at sounds of objects that are functional and aesthetically pleasant, and we should give designers the tools and knowledge they need to reach this goal. For a long time, sound in industrial design has been mainly seen as unwanted noises, a sort of side effect of the design process. This is not true anymore. For instance, the automotive industry is already investing a lot of energy to carefully design every sound produced by a car (engine noise, alarms, etc.). But the tools for fast sound prototyping are still missing and industrial sound design is still a daunting process. The SkAT-VG project aims at facilitating the constructive use of sound by developing sketching tools that can be used to include sound even in the early stage of the design process, when ideas are rapidly produced in the form of numerous sketches that are used to spur design thinking and discussions with stakeholders. If visual sketching is mainly done by hand and pencil, sonic sketching is naturally done by voice and gesture. However, the ephemerality of utterances and gestures makes it challenging to transform them into manipulable sound models, and only a collaborative effort between phoneticians, psychoacousticians, computer scientists, and designers can address this goal.