I borrowed this quote from Daniel Barenboim’s talk on the Nature and Power of Music. Most technological experiences, especially online, have been primarily visual experiences. The web gives us a visual workout but few online experiences stimulate our hearing to create fuller sensory experiences. With the Microsoft Surface interaction paradigm it’s time to prepare for an audio assault as sound is getting the consideration it deserves. Interaction Designers are digging deep in to their auditory and visual toolkit as sound gets crafted in to the Surface experience. The ear is back in vogue.
OK, so the gaming industry has been treating our senses to full immersive experiences for some time but most other technological experiences have relied heavily on visual alone.
Surface doesn't just encourage but mandates a fuller sensory experience. But are agencies ready to build auditory experiences and are clients ready to pay for sound design?
If you can communicate the return on investing in sound design to your clients then they will pay for it. Sound is not there just to titillate the senses. It is used to enhance a brand, stir emotion, create immersive experiences and communicate information. When users manipulates digital content, information is revealed through sound, visual feedback and movement. Sound is not simply about providing a fuller sensory experience but acts as another information layer.
I recently met with Andrew Diey, Founder & CEO of Radium Audio, a leading music and sound design company that have experience in designing sound solutions for Surface experiences. Does Andrew feel that clients are ready?
Andrew doesn’t see such digital auditory experiences as a huge leap. Advertisers know the importance of sound to enhance a brand. This is not about introducing something new but transferring a proven art to a new paradigm. Andrew believes clients are ready but it’s down to agencies to communicate the value of sound. Andrew suggested agencies establish a manifesto which defines the terms on which they approach immersive experience design. The manifesto should outline principles, policy and action plans for future work in immersive experiences. Most agencies have a design manifesto but does it include sound? If you want your client to buy in to sound design then you need to plan for it from the beginning. The task of getting your client to understand the value depends on your belief and recognition that sound is critical to the delivery of a full sensory experience.
Are agencies ready? Yes. It hasn’t been about not having the sound design know-how but more so about not having an environment where sound design is treated with the same importance as visual design. Most agencies that specialise is online solutions may not be experienced in sound but with experienced sound designers such as Radium Audio there is no reason for agencies not to be ready. Sound is part of an interaction designers domain to define audio feedback that complements the interaction and visual design. The brief is then given to the sound designer, internal or external, to weave their magic and create seamless experiences between the audio and interaction.
At EMC Conchango we have in-house sound design capabilities but we are not professional Sound Designers. For superior production and bespoke sound design we look to work with professional sound designers. We employ experienced Art Directors and Creative Designers to achieve our creative vision. Our approach to audio is the same. To craft an immersive auditory experience we need to work with the best.
So there is no reason why we should not be entering a new sensory era of compelling and immersive experience that combine sight and sound. It’s now up to us to be heard...