Globe.fm, exploring the world through sound πŸ₯ΎπŸŒŽ

This student project was made during the two-week Sound Design class at UmeΓ₯ Institute of Design.

Team: Alexander Widua, Linda Kraft, Romy Koppert, Mentoring: Andreas Estensen, Thomas Degn, Context: Sound Design at UmeΓ₯ Institute of Design, Tools: Arduino, After Effects, Vital.audio

My role

Although most decisions were made by the team, I focused mainly on finding an intuitive solution for gesture input in interplay with the user interface. In addition to macro-interactions, I concentrated on micro-interactions, and therefore often initiated discussions about details of the gesture input and screen-based UX design.

Following conception, I was responsible for designing and animating the user interface, while final visual design decisions were always made collaboratively.

How might we turn sound into an explorative experience?

Challenge

Sound plays a big role in how we perceive the world. Inspired by the term Wanderlust, which can be translated as a strong desire to travel, we wondered how to utilize sound to meet people's longing to discover and explore places.

Outcome

Globe.fm is an object that allows people to experience the world through sound based on the selected location. Reminiscent of a traditional radio, Globe.fm lets users browse through different sound channels.

The Process of designing Globe.fm

Rapid prototyping and testing meant that we were able to fail quickly in order to move on.

Validation and iteration

During various iterations, we build quick exploratory prototypes with different tangible inputs and tested them afterward on people. While testing, we found out that the sphere input together with the visualization proved to be very intuitive and even playfully encouraged exploration.

Analysing world map visualization and navigation in software tools like google maps.
Testing gesture input with one of our very early prototypes.

Interface and sound mapping

Finding the right level of abstraction

One challenge was how to map the sound to the visualization. After long iterations of testing, we realized that we needed to heavily abstract the world map to be able to scroll through the soundscape without too many sounds intersecting with each other.

Becoming aware of our world map biases 🌏 🌍 🌎

After showing the map visualization to classmates from different cultural backgrounds, we noticed that the map had a bias with mainly Europe in the center. Once noticed, it was so obvious to us, but something you may not be aware of (but should be!) if all your team members are Europeans. To ensure that every user could identify with the world visualization, we went through different map projections to mitigate the map bias.

Exploring interaction modalities

Using Arduino, we build several interactive screen prototypes to validate the world view using controls and sound by testing them with potential users.

Navigation 🧭 A globe-shaped entry

Gesture input is captured by a globe-shaped object on the top of the radio. The user is able to navigate through this world map by moving across the display. Rotating the sphere leads to an x and y movement of the cursor to rotate the globe on the screen.

We explored various forms to find out which one most closely resembles a radio and matches with the gesture input and its visualization.

Reflection

Designing tangible experiences

As the only one with a digital background among the industrial designers, I had a different perspective on things, which turned out to be very positive in this constellation. Designing an interface that was not only operated by tapping or swiping, but by more sophisticated interactions was an exciting challenge for me, as I had previously worked mainly on mobile or desktop applications. I realized that my strong conceptual skills go beyond screen-based design.

In retrospect, we were able to find a good solution for the object's interaction, but we could have spent more time exploring its interaction modalities even further.

Other work ↓