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Karen Kaushansky is a Principal Device Interaction Designer at Jawbone where she creates rich interactive experiences for consumer devices. Karen is formerly of Microsoft/Tellme and is a 14 year veteran of the speech recognition industry. Over the years, her work has spanned from traditional phone-based speech recognition applications, to voice biometrics, to multimodal experiences. You can connect with her on twitter.
As we’ve seen, audio is used as a feedback mechanism when users interact with many of their everyday devices, such as mobile phones, cars, toys and robots. There are many subtleties to designing with audio in order to create useful, non-intrusive experiences. Here, we’ll explore some guidelines and principles to consider when designing with audio.
While I won’t cover this here, audio is a powerful tool for designing experiences for accessibility, and many of the guidelines discussed here apply. Both Android phones and iPhones already have accessibility options that enable richer experiences with gestural and audio input and audio output.
Our world is getting louder. Consider all the beeps and bops from your smartphone that alert you that something is happening, and all the feedback from your appliances when your toast is ready or your oven is heated, and when Siri responds to a question you’ve posed. Today our technology is expressing itself with sound, and, as interaction designers, we need to consider how to deliberately design with audio to create harmony rather than cacophony.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the uses of audio, where we might find it and when it is useful. This is meant not as a tutorial but rather as a discussion of some basics on using audio feedback.