February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tag: sounds-of-brands

SOUND RESEARCH LOG: The Sound Design of Typing

“The Qwerkwriter has a very unique sound signature, due to its chrome accent as well as the mechanical switch, and the way the key caps are constructed.” That’s the pitch at the start of this video of a three-pound, tablet-friendly keyboard that combines Bluetooth connectivity with an old-school mechanism. It is unlikely anyone who worked in or near a corporate typing pool in the pre-computer, post-war era misses the cacophony, but for personal use the gadget no doubt has its charms. From the tech spec: “Cherry MX Blue switches (a modern switch that emulates the typewriter clicky feel).”

Hosted at vimeo.com and the kickstarter.com campaign, which passed its goal of $90,000 by almost 50 percent. More at qwerkytoys.com. Found via Richard Kadrey.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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SOUND RESEARCH LOG: Sound Design: That Sounds Hot

A lot of the class that I teach about the role of sound in the media landscape focuses on exploring the sonic aspects of organizations, enterprises, and products. This following bit is a good example of a company doing just that:

How does hot water differ from cold water, sonically. NPR listened in as the British firm Condiment Junkie set out to answer the question, in the service of a Twinings Tea advertisement.

Here is a set of examples of their research:

NPR’s summary:

The marketers wanted to know: Would it be possible to make that noise itself more appealing? Can people hear the difference between a hot cup of tea being poured and, say, a cold beer? And is it possible to make a hot drink sound hotter or a cold drink sound more refreshing?

So they did an experiment. They played sounds of hot and cold water being poured into glasses and asked people to guess: hot or cold? The results were kind of insane. Ninety-six percent of people can tell the difference between hot and cold, just by the sound.

Scott King of Condiment Junkie on the takeaway:

“There tends to be more bubbling in a liquid that’s hot,” he explains. “As you have more bubbling, you tend to get higher frequency sounds from it.”

The firm has also developed “interactive music boxes” for Selfridges and sound design for an Adidas spot. More at condimentjunkie.co.uk.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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SOUND RESEARCH LOG: What Will Be the Hamburger of Voice Search?

Even though it’s over two and a half years since Apple introduced Siri and almost 50 years since Douglas Rain provided the voice for Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey, we’re very much at the beginning of voice control. There are few if any norms or standards for voice commands activated by users, especially in contrast with the increasing uniformity of web design, where common elements are pervasive, such as endless scroll, small-print footers, and the three-lined “hamburger” button that signifies the presence of a menu. The norms in voice search will be accumulated in the coming years, not just thanks to decisions made by the big players, but by small initiatives, like the Tabs Board controller, a Chrome extension covered yesterday by addictivetips.com:

Voice search integration arrived in Chrome quite a while ago and it is an excellent watered down basic version of Google Now. One of the many differences between Google Now and Voice Search on Chrome is that Google Now can launch apps installed on your device while Voice Search is simply what its name implies it is with no support for any other browser function. Tabs Board is a Chrome extension that helps you switch between tabs open in a window. It also lets you search for tabs by a voice command which is what sets it apart from other tab management extensions. Both the voice search and the tab switching overlay can be opened with a keyboard shortcut that a user can customize. You can search for tabs with either a voice command or you can search and select them using the mouse. The extension lists open tabs in an overlay at the bottom of Chrome.

As with most voice commands, the product assumes that your microphone is always one. Get Tab Boards at the chrome.google.com.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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SOUND RESEARCH LOG: Pharmaceuticals Are Technologies Are Pharmaceuticals

Kind of fascinating that the manufacturer of an over-the-counter sleep aid might create brand extensions that include white noise machines:

Procter & Gamble Co. Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller piqued curiosity when he told an investor conference last month that the company was preparing to enter a new category in the next six months and “introduce a new and far superior method of addressing a chronic consumer issue.”

Based on the company’s trademark filings, a strong candidate, at least for the latter, appears to be a line of products that make it easier to sleep. Several of its recent trademark filings relate to an expansion of the ZzzQuil brand the company launched in 2012 into what would be a range of new sleep-aid products. Among the categories P&G filed to cover with the ZzzQuil and ZzzPads name in February are “electronic sound generators for producing ambient sounds for promoting sleep,” light-therapy units and aromatherapy pads specially adapted for creating scents for electric vaporizers, electric fans, air purifiers and humidifiers.

Via Zack Neff at adage.com.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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SOUND RESEARCH LOG: Smartwatches Are Always Listening, LG G

The above image is from the initial promotional material for the Android-powered LG G Watch. It is showing support for “Ok Google,” which listens for that phrase as a prompt. Of course, in order to do that, the watch has to be always listening. As useful as the concierge-ish search is, of all gadgets a watch needn’t have to listen — you could just, you know, hit a button. Also from the promotional language: “It doesn’t just listen well, it communicates with you well: straight answers to spoken questions.” The initial specs don’t seem to note the inclusion of a microphone.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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