Conquering the audio space: let the world talk to me!

December 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

Visual technologies and culture surround us everywhere and has made us deaf to innovative audio. Simultaneously, the radio, music channels, and mobile talk have made us blind to the huge possibilities of the audio space in general.

What follows is again one of the ideas I’ve presented to the representatives of a decreasingly famous telecommunication firm in Finland – without too much excitement of reception: expanding the audio space for any human purpose. So, I will here shortly introduce the concepts in the hope that somewhere, some might be inspired by it. Whatever happens, these technological innovations will be available for us one day.

Visual information overloads us: the displays get larger and cheaper, 3D is here, flashing, moving, and talking displays surround us, ebooks are desperately trying to conquer our everyday life, and more is to come.  It is easy to predict what will happen: we have to learn to neglect the visual streams, fight against the visual noise by neglect, and the broadcasters will be frustrated observing the decreasing efficiency of their visual communications.

The simple reason for the problem of sensory disturbances and interference is that we are extremely bad in attending to two or more simultaneous tasks requiring vision. Because we are visual creatures and our surrounds have already been conquered by visuals, a simple solution is a better use of different sensory channels, which in today’s communication practice means expanding the available audio space and boosting its potential.

The familiar visual and audio developments have overshadowed the possibility to use audio space in a novel way and for new forms of communications, shadowing, interaction, on-line face-to-face communication, audio-shopping, and audio-based browsing – spontaneous talking to each other.

This is how it could go:

Imagine that we could always hear what we see: a shop telling its story, a person talking to anyone who wants to hear about his or her life, car drivers telling where they are going, train saying when its leaving, practically any object or anyone of us – could have a directional audio transmitter that sends audio that we want to broadcast or with what we want to create interaction. We would have audio connection with everything and everybody we can see and with those who can see us and are interested.  There are numerous technological ways to accomplish this.

Some might think this is just augmented reality that you could use as an application with the googleglasses, for example. Yes, of course it could be used with them but it is easier, and more fun and we are simply more efficient and accurate in just pointing at what interests us. We can then use the head and eye movements for what they are needed for in our attentive behavior.

More importantly: it is time to expand the audio space in our everyday life – work, education, business, and on just about any activity that is relevant to us. Anyone interested in the information offered through such audio sources could then get access – with practically no more effort or disturbance than from listening to music – by simply pointing his device to the source and locking to it: the object, the shop window, a person, or whatever and start reception or even interaction. A shop might want to tell about their new products, campaigns or offerings or just about their own thinking about anything. An advert could tell more than is shown by the flashing visuals to the eager listener. Objects could talk to us. People could talk to each other more. And it would not block our vision. But we would be in control – always.

A huge untouched audio space waits for the conqueror and is available for us for innovative and valuable purposes. As a technology it would be less disturbing than the visual one that demands our full 100% attention when looking at or reading something on a display or following a trailer or other ongoing story. Driving a car and following a live broadcast from a large display near the road is simply dangerous. We all have already learned how easy it is to listen to music when walking on the street, at work or while being engaged with other activities of life. Visual world alone is simply too demanding.

Finally, it is possible that these ideas have been around already for years. If so, I just wish something will happen with it in real audio life. If it is really new, perhaps a mobile phone company could conquer the audio space first. Internet of general audio does not really exist yet. And last, a mp is not a bad pointer and the earplugs are here already here. The audio space is huge and only the audio imagination sets the limits.

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