I did
Google Soundscape makes digital sound a spacial and immersive experience
Google Daydream sponsored project
@ ArtCenter
UX Research
UI Design
Interaction Design
Product Design
What We Made
Google soundscape is a more natural way to engage, collaborate, and enjoy the world of sound. In this speculative project, we discovered use cases that utilized spacial audio through a pair of headphones and a companion application.
We utilized many digital and physical prototyping methods to try to find answers to our open ended questions.  We weren’t so concerned with trying to prototype to reach a particular solution, but rather we used it as an experimental way to better understand the ways we experience sound and our environments.  We did things like rig photo-sensors to gloves, and route them through audio cables to an amplifier, giving us a way to “listen” to light.
Exploration a world of sound
Flattened communication
We eventually realized through our experimentation that there was much to be explored through the audible sounds we hear, and the many ways we communicate.  A key insight we found was that many of the nuances of basic human communication are flattened in digital form.  This severely limits the ways we can communicate and collaborate remotely.  There is a massive amount context embedded within various human communication scenarios.
Arriving at headphones
Through our research and prototyping it became clear that headphones were the most appropriate form factor.  They provided a higher fidelity experience, which was necessary for audio positioning. The headphones made use of ultrasonic sensors that mapped out the physical environment, and software that could place the sources of digital sounds within that space.
Spacial Phone Calls
Phone calls could sound more like the other person is physically in the room with you.  After receiving the call, the headphones place the source of the person you’re talking to somewhere in the room with you.  Their voice would fluctuate based on your orientation in a much more natural way.
Tuning out and Tuning up
In addition to mapping out digital sounds, we explored the potential of selective sound isolation as well.  By detecting the sound signatures of your environment, the user could effectively tune out, or tune up, certain sounds. This was done by tugging on the tassels hanging on the chest.
Google Jam
Based on interviews with musicians, we found that options for digital real time collaborations were quite limited. With google soundscape, virtual musical collaborations would feel like those you’re playing with are placed around you.  This would mimic the way a band would be laid out, and make the experience more natural and interpersonal.
Making it Cozy
To incorporate Google's material design language, we experimented with soft touch fabrics. The tassles mimicked the draw strings on hoodies, and doubled as a way to interact with headphone functions.
Our concept was pitched to Google Daydream at ArtCenter, utilizing physical prototypes, digital assets, and a virtual reality demo. The audience loved being able to experience spacial audio through our demo, and was able to provide valuable feedback for enhancing the experiences. Both Bose and Apple released similar products weeks later.

The Team: Jordan Guerraro (left) Me (right)

Spacial audio demo utilizing VR

Google Soundscape