Touch the Sound

Tactile sound design und haptic feedback

Modern interfaces for human-machine-interaction often lack physical feedback for the user. In the physical world around us, however, we sense our interaction with the environment in a natural way: through touch typing we can use a computer keyboard blindly; we can write without looking at our hands. We can also move faders or press light switches without having to control with our eyes what our fingers do. With touch screens this is different: they are flat, smooth and have no tangible texture. When we write, or control faders and knobs on such a screen, we need additional visual reference; what we press, where we move. This means that touchscreens cannot be controlled blindly and neither can most gestural interfaces, which also miss physical limitations that make us sense the range of our movements. So-called ‚haptic feedback’ - noticeable vibrations caused by transducers - solve this problem: they provide an alternative to the missing texture and provide the user with information about his interaction. That greatly increases the interfaces’ intuitiveness. Furthermore, it is possible to apply haptic feedback creatively and give structure to otherwise flat screens and projection surfaces.

  • Application example: ‚Level Green‘ of Autotadt Wolfsburg
    For the touchscreens utilized at the exhibition - some being several metres in size - Idee und Klang Audio Design realized an intelligent sound design which produces haptic feedback by means of touch sensitive transducers. That way the visitor senses what exactly has been pressed or is being moved on the interactive surface, allowing the focus on other visual elements. Link to project

In the case of 360-degree or full-dome projections and especially in 4D cinemas, another aspects starts to gain importance: we want to not only hear sound, but to feel it, too. If that component is missing, the experience lacks realism, because massive sonic events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or explosions are always coupled with a strong physical sensation. Since visitors either sit or stand in these scenarios, vibrations are cause by so-called ‚shakers’ built into seats or the floor. This not only makes it possible to design much more immersive experience, but can also be used to cause irritation.

  • Application example 1: ‚Enthüllt. Berlin und seine Denkmäler‘
    One installation of the exhibition addresses the megalomania of a historical building project in Nazi Germany, which was translated into a 22-channel sound installation. ‚Earthquake Transducer’ cause the floor to vibrate, causing irritation and unease. Link to project
  • Application example 2: ‚Museum of the Future - 2017‘ in Dubai
    For the key part of the museum, a 360-degree film projection, Idee und Klang produced an immersive soundtrack using an Auro 11.1 setup with additional floor speakers and multiple shakers built into the floor. Over the course of the film visitors were immersed in a sandstorm and brought thousands of feet below sea level. Link to project
  • Application example 3: ‚Museum of the Future - 2016‘ in Dubai
    One area of the exhibition featured an avatar responsible for your relaxation: it conducted the ambient music while the visitor was lying in a lounger that sent rhythmical waves of vibrations from head to toe. Link to project