Machine Music: How Sound Shapes our relationship with Technology
The Bleep Crescendo
The world is getting noisier.
The symphony of organic and synthetic sounds we hear every day in both our private and shared spaces seems to be intensifying. And it’s our obsession with technological devices in particular, that contributes a few more, often many more, decibels to the growing cacophony around us.
In a hyper-connected society where the average UK home now contains 19 technological devices ranging from laptops, to tablets to TVs and fridges, sound plays an increasingly prominent role in how we interact with the machines that in many cases case have become extensions of our identities.
These sounds or audio signals – the bleeps, whooshes and pings we’re all so familiar with, help us complete tasks and navigate our environment. Some of these signals are designed – for instance we wake to the buzz of the alarm clock, answer the ringing telephone, and race to the kitchen on hearing the shrill beep of the smoke alarm.
Other audio signals are not deliberately designed, but help us nonetheless. For instance, the gentle hum of the PC fan, or the noise of the refrigerator. So, when these systems go awry, we notice it immediately—something doesn’t sound right.
Nostalgia Tech: A Sonic Heritage
Brands and manufacturers have, over the past thirty years, been successful in using sound to not only enable and enhance the user experience of these devices but also to create indelible mnemonics that stand the test of time.
One of the earliest examples is the start up sound for Windows 95.
In case you don’t remember It sounds like this.