The term Peripheral audio covers all the sounds and noises that are only subconsciously registered in our brains. These can come from anywhere, for example from the wind blowing outside, the washing machine in the basement, the air conditioning etc. Even though we don’t notice the sounds in our daily lives, they are processed and categorized in the brain, to make us aware of what is going on around us.
The aim of this project was to create a product or a system, which makes use of subtle audio cues, as a way of providing information. The challenge was to identify what kind of information a specific user group would appreciate, and then find a way to communicate it, unobtrusively.
ELLY was a way of introducing peripheral audio to an everyday home context. The basic idea was to use subtle audio cues to provide information of the current time, and this is achieved by gradually lowering the pitch of the ELLY clocks ticking sound, over the course of one hour. After the hour has passed the pitch resets to its original level, and starts decreasing once again, thereby providing the consumers with a rough idea of the current time.
The project ended very successfully as two user tests showed, that within a 5 day period the participants could guess the approximate time with an accuracy of ±5 minutes, based on the pitch of the ticking sound.