Behind The Sound: Sounds To Soothe The Brain With InTouch
Updated: May 25
At 344 Audio we provide Sound Design for Films and Visual Media, but really enjoy the moments where a completely new and abstract project comes our way.
InTouch was a very unique concept for us, as our Sound Design is now used and experienced within a physical product.
"InTouch is a conceptual tool comprised of 20 magnetised spherical and hemi-spherical shapes that make up a molecular model of dopamine. Like a modern day worry bead, InTouch is dedicated to sensory experience. As each magnet connects, a sound is triggered.
While there is no optimum state to be in, at different times we will want the user to be able to shift into one that is appropriate to the task at hand, whether sleeping, working on a project or relaxing. This is where InTouch comes in. We tell stories by engaging the senses: as the user connects each form together, they become the composer of their own experience. The combination of the action of completing the dopamine model, the pleasure received from the clicking noise of the magnets and the resulting sound turn the experience into a performance that can help ease tension and reduce anxiety.
InTouch is intended to not only describe what happens in the brain when we discover new things, but prescribe an alternative
experience as a method of relaxation."
Product Creator, Olivia Somary
The Spotting Session
During our Sound Spotting Session, we spoke with Olivia about the experience that InTouch should offer for end users. It needed to be immersive and trigger relaxation and focus in the brain, without using cliche sound effects such as rainfall.
Together we decided that binaural beats and ambient synthesised soundscapes would be the best option to offer both a modern and accessible feeling to the product, we thought a lot of people wouldn't have tried binaural beats too, and that their effects could really enhance the products goal for end users. We built a small team for the project to help create a collaborative and varied soundscape.
Sound Design and Implementation
Using Binaural Beats made from sine wave generators in Pro Tools, we conducted research to discover which frequency gaps offered the correct emotional and physical responses. These were given an auto-panning effect, to ensure that when stacked, they would move and shift around the headphones that the user wears, giving another element of randomness.
Here is a binaural beat frequency we used to invoke a sense of hypnosis:
The multiple binaural beats emotional/physical responses created included:
The ambient soundscapes were much more complex, but had to fit musically with the binaural beats, even if everything was connected and triggered by the user. The Sound Design team sat in a studio session together and decided which musical key our soundscapes would sit in, as well as the direction that each team member would offer with their sounds.
Here is one of thousands of soundscapes that users can generate with the product:
Various themes were explored for the soundscapes, including:
Olivia wanted to use the Soundplant engine, to ensure simple and stable operation, a product able to work on almost any computer system.
Using Soundplant, the device was able to trigger our sounds whenever shapes were connected by the user (at their own discretion). The files were created in a way that there were likely hundreds of thousands of possible variations in timing and timbre which only added more interest and longevity to the product. The sine waves were brought into the engine as singular frequencies, which meant they could be triggered at any point and binaural beating would occur, because of the frequency gap between the waveforms.
The product now triggers the binaural beats when users connect the base shapes and the ambient soundscapes when they trigger the smaller shapes providing a fluid and dopamine inducing experience that puts you InTouch with your brain.
Here's what Olivia thought about the experience:
"It has been a pleasure to work with Alex. He introduced me to Binaural beats and combined them with ambient sounds to give my project a whole new dimension. Together we have composed a conceptual creative tool for relaxation - a device I would not have been able to create without Alex’s extensive knowledge and insight! Thanks again!"
We would also like to give a special thanks to the Sound Design team:
Lead Sound Designer
Assistant Sound Designers
InTouch was a wonderful experience for the team and it was a pleasure working on such a unique product with Olivia. We can't wait for the exhibition/demonstration coming soon which we will definitely be attending and providing updates on.
If you enjoyed this article please check out our ultimate guide to audio post- production: https://www.344audio.com/post/the-ultimate-guide-to-audio-post-production-sound-design