Robot sound design Asbjoern Andersen


From robotic lawnmowers and autonomous vacuum cleaners, to interactive toys and personal assistants, robots are becoming an ever-growing part of our personal and professional lives - and what they sound like has a profound impact on how we perceive, understand and use them.

In this in-depth guide, Dr Iain McGregor - Programme Leader for the online MSc in Sound design at Edinburgh Napier University - explores the opportunities, considerations and challenges we face when thinking about and designing sound for robots:


Written by Dr Iain McGregor and reprinted with his kind permission
Please share:
 
Robots can be thought of as servants, collaborators, professional best friends or even soul mates. The requirement for built-in sensors means that robots can potentially move between these roles according to the person they are interacting with. Whilst there are enthusiasts, reluctance to engage with robots is understandable when the differentiation between robotics and AI is often not fully understood, or even appreciated. Emotional engagement can be immediately affected by the auditory content of a robot.

The wide range between a silent servant or a communicative companion can be reflected in the desired aural interaction. This process can be utilised in order to make a robot appear dumb or intuitive, according to the needs of the person interacting with it. At present when sound is designed for robots it is often speech centric or remarkably similar to that already utilised within digital devices and video games.
 

Robot Gender

The gender of a robot, and of virtual assistant technologies can be a major issue when a robot is perceived as subservient.

The frictionless interaction of speech input is becoming increasingly more popular in a wide variety of devices. Verbal communication has the advantage of conveying not only mood, but level of tiredness, character traits, and even some medical conditions. Medical practitioners already use speech as a diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s, Heart problems and prostate cancer, which display as frequency notches in speech patterns due to voice deterioration, and these techniques have been built into commercially available software applications. The gender of a robot, and of virtual assistant technologies can be a major issue when a robot is perceived as subservient.

Gender, or lack of one, can either be assigned or arrived at in order to make humans as comfortable as possible in a robot’s company. Gender neutral voices and action sounds can be tested in regular use, with the resultant responses used to guide an assignment by gradually trialling more male or female aspects until an optimal interaction is achieved. Alternatively, the robot could ask. “What would you like to call me?” The response can provide effective cues about which gender to assign, male and female names are generally obvious, with some exceptions. If the name chosen is more technology based, then a neutral gender voice can be applied.
 

Deliberately designed sounds

An increase in pitch and volume is associated with a source moving towards a person, whereas a decrease in pitch and volume indicates a receding sound source.

There are a wide range of robots already working regularly in industry, and they are becoming ever more commonplace in medical and domestic environments. Robotics can take entirely new forms, or be integrated into existing technologies in order to make them autonomous. In industry, robots are sometimes caged off so that no harm can come to any humans who share the workplace. In some instances, whole areas are completely out of bounds, such as docks or factory floors. The additional inclusion of proximity sensors or wearable ‘protective shields’ can help remove or reduce this need for robot only environments, and the inclusion of appropriate sounds can further improve safety.

Deliberately designing sounds with an approaching Doppler effect built in can help indicate when a robot, or its appendage, is coming towards a person, and might cause damage, making the interactions more natural, as well as safer. If there is no danger, the device can be silent or make its normal operating sound. If the desire is to communicate that it is safe to be around the robot, then a sound with the Doppler effect of a receding sound source can easily convey that there is no danger. An increase in pitch and volume is associated with a source moving towards a person, whereas a decrease in pitch and volume indicates a receding sound source. Individuals are regularly reminded of this convention whenever they are around audible moving objects, and have learned that those moving towards them usually needed to be attended to, whilst those receding can normally be safely ignored.

Everyday industrial items like floor polishers, which are often found in supermarkets and airports can be converted to become autonomous. The physical interfaces required for humans to operate them are often retained, so the impression that some have when first encountering these devices is that there is a malfunction and that it is operating out of control, minus its human operator. One option is to produce beeps, similar to a truck backing up, but this quickly becomes an annoyance for those who have to share the workplace environment. A second approach is to enhance the sounds that the device normally makes such as the circular brushes. That way they can be enhanced when the device is in close proximity to a person, so that if it slows down or stops entirely to give way for an individual, then it is clearly audible that the process has been interrupted. If the device is operating when no humans are present or at a proscribed distance, then the same audio reproduction technologies can be used to apply active noise cancellation, which whilst not being 100% efficient can still slightly reduce the overall levels.

Extending the audible content

If the inherent nature of the sound producing robotic material does not inspire confidence, such as plastic, it can be replaced with a stronger more metallic sound to indicate strength.

Active noise cancellation can be helpful to reduce a robot’s vibrations, which in turn can improve efficiency and accuracy of tasks. Surface mounted transducers may be utilised to vibrate out of phase in order to reduce any audible elements, making actions quieter. When it is not possible to cancel out a mechanical sound, piezo loudspeakers can be mounted internally to generate sounds that complement, and even extend the audible content. This can be used to provide confidence that a robot is capable of the task it is about to perform.

So, when it is lifting someone it would make a different much stronger sound that when it is performing a delicate task that might hurt the individual being assisted. A ratcheting sound can imply that there is an inherent safety mechanism to prevent an action being accidentally reversed, or to prevent it from going too far. A smooth sound may provide confidence that no vibration will cause an item to be dropped. If the inherent nature of the sound producing robotic material does not inspire confidence, such as plastic, it can be replaced with a stronger more metallic sound to indicate strength. Similarly, if a level of elasticity is needed to convey delicacy, then more yielding rubber type sounds can be used.
 

Simple sonic concepts


Customer-facing robots such as those found in catering environments waiting on clients can generate sounds associated with heat to provide customers with confidence that the food is being kept hot. Conversely when a cold item is being conveyed, that it is being kept sufficiently chilled. These could be refrigeration sounds associated with cooling apparatus, slight high-pitched gentle fans or even quiet sharp cracking, if it is appropriate for the food item. Robotic chefs often have to use slightly different techniques for food preparation than human chefs and are sometimes operating in full view of the clientele.

Heat, precision and cleanliness are all simple concepts to convey aurally. Sizzling has long been associated with heat, and latterly the Fajita effect, regular timings of any movements which convey the correct texture imply accuracy, and steam, suction or brushing sounds communicate a freshly prepared hygienic surface. For large scale industrial robotic lines then, similar principles can provide confidence that hidden aspects of a production line are operating correctly.
 

Uncanny Valley


The uncanny valley is a much-cited issue associated with androids. The intended human appearance can evoke unwanted emotions, but with monitoring, sounds can be used to vary the level of perceived realism in order to make humans feel more comfortable when interacting with human like robots.

False starts, errors and repetition … can also be used to hide or emphasise processing delays, in a similar manner to when humans are trying to think of an appropriate response.

Behaviours such as eye contact, proximity and pronoun use when addressing an android can be analysed in order to know whether to make the android appear aurally more or less realistic. This approach might sound counter intuitive but communicating the artificial nature can assist with engagement so that discomfort can be gradually overcome through repeated exposure.

After an acceptance has been reached a more natural realistic set of sounds can be utilised, which partially obscure any artificiality. Random disharmonic artefacts with a wide dynamic range can be included when on the artificial end of the scale, counterbalanced by even-order harmonics and a more predicable dynamic range when naturalism is desired. This can be a gradual transition applied to speech, that can be further extended through the use of more or less formal language, as well as false starts, errors and repetition.

These artefacts can also be used to hide or emphasise processing delays, in a similar manner to when humans are trying to think of an appropriate response. Fricatives, sibilance, lip smacks, breaths and glottal fry can all be included after the initial discomfort has been overcome. The underlying hardware can also be emphasised or deemphasised accordingly, so that pneumatics can made louder, or distracted from by overlaying vocal artefacts.

 

Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Roomtones & Ext. Ambiences British Stately Home Play Track 256 sounds included, 496 mins total $49

    British Stately Home is a collaboration between two award-winning sound designers, Stefan Henrix (Chernobyl, Batman Begins) and Steve Fanagan (Room, Frank). It is a collection of 256 files recorded at 24bit/96kHz, totalling 18.6GB. The recordings are a mixture of mono, stereo, LCR and 5.0 files. In some cases there are multiple perspectives on the same recording (close, mid and wide). There are also Impulse Responses from several of the building's more characterfully reverberant rooms, which have been recorded from different perspectives and edited for use with Altiverb.

    Sounds for this library were recorded over two days in a beautifully maintained rural British Stately Home; a late-18th-century neo-classical mansion. We set out to record any and all aspects of the building and its surroundings. The collection includes doors, windows, fireplaces, clocks, drips, keys and various unusual, period specific props we came across.

    The interior of the building was one of the quietest places either of us have ever recorded and the Roomtones we've captured here are some of the most still and neutral recordings we've both made.

    All of the sounds are authentic and the spaces we recorded in are reverberant, have their own ambience, and have coloured each of the recordings with the natural acoustic of this magnificent building.

    We often set-up with multiple mics to capture different perspectives of the same recordings and these will hopefully offer the user interesting options as they work with these sounds.

    At times we have left our own movements at the beginning and end of recordings, as they captured something of the building's unique acoustic and have proven useful to both of us in our own film work with this library. This is a diverse and versatile library and the recordings take well to pitch and time shifting, and to other plugin manipulation.

    Equipment Used: Sanken CMS-7S, DPA4060, Sennheiser MKH60, Rode NT4, Sound Devices 702T, Sound Devices USB Pre-2, Roland R26

    Add to cart
  • Destruction & Impact Shockwave Play Track 153 sounds included $55 $44

    SHOCKWAVE is a collection of aggressive and destructive sound effects for modern sci-fi, industrial cinematic music, soundtracks and hybrid sound design creation.

    The sound pack contains explosive heavy hitting sounds, digital glitch, dirty blast, heavy ping, electric shock, flash, buzz, stutters and source recordings – a total of 150+ WAV Samples in 24 bit / 48 kHz.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1560981600
    Add to cart
  • Trains Vintage Tram Play Track 28+ sounds included, 40 mins total $29 $24

    Vintage Tram features sounds of a fully working light rail vehicle in small valley near Dresden/Germany. The 2-axle railcars were built from 1957 until 1967 with reference to concepts from the 1930s.
    The recorded tram drives along an 8 kilometer track through a small valley that is surrounded by reverberant rock faces of various intensity.

    The Library contains recordings from the driver´s seat, from several positions in the wagon, both with and without passengers. Also included are exterior recordings of squeaky approaches and pass-bys, couplings, doorbells, and door openings/closings.

    Recorded in 192 kHz the material allows for extensive downsampling to generate versatile soundscapes far beyond the original. Please listen to Audio Demo No.2

    17 %
    OFF
    Ends 1561845600
    Add to cart
  • Weather Rain & Thunder Play Track 53 + sounds included, 162 mins total $40 $30

    The Rain & Thunder sound library features 53 files covering different types of rain, from light showers to heavy falls. Files were recorded in different locations, like open space, forest, under the plastic or metal roofs and some experiments like rain recorded inside metal grill or bucket. There are also few thunder recordings, mostly subtle and long ones. It’s 5.31 GB 96kHz pack with total length of 162 minutes.

    25 %
    OFF
    Ends 1560981600
    Add to cart
  • Ambisonics Madrid Ambisonic City Life Play Track 40 sounds included, 180 mins total $120 $75

    We recorded Madrid last winter, capturing 40 beautiful tracks in ambisonic format, 48Khz and 24 bits HD. As always, top quality recordings specially designed for film audio projects. The library was decoded and mixed in Dolby ATMOS.

    Included Ambix Ambisonic, 7.1.2 Atmos Bed, 5.1 and ST versions.

    Another way to get this library:
    Also included in the Surround Sound LAB Complete Bundle, featuring 25+ SFX libraries at a huge discount.
    38 %
    OFF
    Add to cart

Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Active monitoring

When essential sounds still have to be heard on a ward complementary sounds can be generated by a robot, or similar device so as to make any alerts less stressful for those who are not the intended auditors.

Medical robots range from those used in surgical procedures, through to medicine dispensing and rehabilitation, amongst others. Hospitals are already considered noisy spaces, due to the well-established practice of medical alarms, highly reflective surfaces, visitors and staff, many of whom make active use of mobile phones. The World Health Organisation daytime recommendation of 35 dBA for the benefit of patient recovery is typically exceeded by at least 25 dBA, as is the 30 dBA night time level.

Critical patients have been shown to experience aural disturbance every six minutes during the night in some hospitals. Robotics in a medical environment can dramatically assist in the lowering of levels through a variety of techniques. The first is through active monitoring, most of the existing artificial alert sounds can be pitch shifted up into the ultrasonic range so that they can then be translated back down to an audible frequency in the appropriate location, such as a nurses’ station or when the desired listener is within range.
Many robots can also move themselves to locations where they can either provide masking sounds or amplify an essential sound in order to provide an auditory bread trail to decrease staff response times. When essential sounds still have to be heard on a ward complementary sounds can be generated by a robot, or similar device so as to make any alerts less stressful for those who are not the intended auditors. This can be made more fun for paediatric wards using wildlife or fantasy sounds, or more naturalistic for adult wards, with the further benefit of providing privacy when needed, like an acoustic curtain.

Robotic carts or trolleys are not confined to hospitals, but they are increasingly common. At present the auditory interactions are mostly through speech, but these can be altered according to the urgency and sensitivity of the items being transported. When a clear path is essential attention can be drawn through creating an artificial motor rotation, near silence can be adopted for less time-sensitive journeys. Auditory warnings associated with the cargo can be transmitted as it approaches the intended recipient so that preparation can be made in advance, without having to actively look out for its arrival. When moving through paediatric wards, the cart can become a form of auditory spectacle, from an imaginary unicorn or even a spaceship. The inherent nature of the robotic carts is that they tend to move more smoothly than manual trollies so in themselves they already reduce the level of noise within a medical environment.
 

Companion robots


Companion robots were initially designed for hospital environments and have been used to comfort children and the elderly alike. They provide distraction and can even promote the reduction of cortisol and increase of oxytocin, while remaining clinically hygienic. Soothing music has been repeatedly shown to help patients reduce stress in hospitals, which has often been provided by hospital radio services. These benefits are not confined to music, the sounds of cats purring, gentle breathing, waves and gentle wind all have shown similar effects.

An optimal approach to the design of companion robots is to maximise the level of interactivity so that a high level of engagement is achieved. Sound choices can be cycled through until the optimum human response is achieved. The animal kingdom is often used as inspiration for personal care robots and those designed to engage children, in order to increase the level of bonding, and perceived personality. However, little is generally done to auditorily mask the mechanical nature or to convey the underlying processes, which can provide much needed confidence for those interacting with robots.

Dementia active monitoring can be applied using companion robots so that the auditory interventions can be adapted for maximum effect. Simple tasks such as reminding people to move, sit down or eat, can either be achieved through speech synthesis, or by associative sounds, such as a microwave ‘ding’ or food preparation sounds. These can be more traditional sounds associated with their own youth, so that the level of recognition is improved. These can also be extended, so that tasks such as cooking or even changing a lightbulb can be assisted by a robotic companion, providing a verbal commentary and supportive sounds when needed.

One technique adopted from smart speakers is the companion app that listens to someone reading a known book and then automatically plays back sound effects or music to punctuate the story.

Companion robots are also available as toys and are becoming remarkably similar in terms of functionality to those designed for medical use. Science fiction and nature are both popular tropes for sonic design, talking dolls have been available since the 19th century, and are still readily accepted by the young. Decades of science fiction films with robots has created an expectation for robots to sound futuristic, which some definitely do, although often with a cute, friendly edge. The microphone arrays that robots use allow an auditory contextual understanding. One technique adopted from smart speakers is the companion app that listens to someone reading a known book and then automatically plays back sound effects or music to punctuate the story. But this can extend to any auditory interaction, so if a child laughs the robot can join in, or if crying is heard then soothing sounds can be generated. They also have the advantage, if having been suitably programmed, of being able to transmit the sound to any concerned adults, through whatever device they have access to.
 

Auditory mirroring


Preprogrammed personality traits are popular, and even more so when they have the ability to develop. Stroking can produce purring, being ignored, or mistreated may lead to negative verbalisations. Literal interpretations are often a starting point. Novel associative sounds that are reminiscent often work best, as they do not draw attention to the artificial nature of the source, so that it is not perceived as being less than a ‘living creature’. Analysis of local languages for sounds can be an intuitive method of designing sounds.

Spearcons, which are dramatically speeded up spoken words, have proved effective in interfaces for those not able to visually see a screen

Spearcons, which are dramatically speeded up spoken words, have proved effective in interfaces for those not able to visually see a screen, but they can also be used to provide spectral, dynamic and temporal cues that can be applied to sound effects. The emotional content associated with vocal delivery is commonly perceived and can even be used as an input to provide auditory mirroring, so that the sounds generated by a companion robot are even more closely aligned with the person it is interacting with.

Many auditory cues are accurately interpreted cross-species, crying is the most cited, but there are others, the only real constraint is ensuring that the spectral content falls within the auditory range of the listener. Social media accounts can be utilised beyond advertising in order to provide candidate animals for mimicry. A strong interest in for example penguins or cats can form the basis of a customised auditory experience, especially relying on previous exposure to create meaningful cross technology communication. Phobias can also be avoided, and even when information is not available then grouping of similar profiles can fill in some of the gaps. Tropes from other preferred media such as video games or films can also be applied to extend the auditory palette. The auditory feedback loop can then be applied to alter sounds according to their reception, in order to maximise the level of end user comfort.
 

Robot sound effects source material:

If you’re looking for source material for your robot sound design, check out a few sound libraries from the independent sound community below:

  • Meet Bleep – The adorable robot vocal library that will melt the collective hearts of your audience. With all the vocalizations you need to give your cute robotic characters a life of their own.
    Includes 211 vocals spanning over an amazing array of expressions!

    Expressions include:

    Activation, Affection, Anger, Arousal, Confusion, Dying, Drunk, Exertion, Falling/Descending, Epiphany, Grumbling, Hurt, Jumping, Laughing, Malfunctioning, Performing Actions, Relief, Sadness, Fear, Sighing, Sneezing, Surprise, and more
    Add to cart
  • Mechanical Cyborg Collection Play Track 3000+ sounds included
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $55

    The Cyborg Collection features a wide assortment of over 3000 Sci-Fi sound effects ranging from small user interfaces to massive robots.

    Everything from simple droids to powerful plasma rifles and futuristic transformations are included in this 3.2GB library. Check out the track listing here to see the variety of robots, interfaces, weaponry, vehicles and spacecraft included in the collection.

    Add to cart
  • Sci-Fi Future Robotics Play Track 247 sounds included $50 $30

    ‘Future Robotics’ by Cinematic Sound Design features a collection of futuristic sound effects designed for Cinematic productions, games, apps and more. From hard-hitting rusty sounds too tiny droid talks, robot malfunctions, creaks, and lasers, inside you will find a unique collection for your next multi-media project.

    This collection was designed using some of the best quality equipment, including Access Virus Ti, DSI Prophet, Waldorf Pulse 2 and more, all routed through an Apogee Symphony AD/DA for additional warmth and depth.

    40 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • Mechanical Robobiotics Play Track 3600+ sounds included $120 $90

    Robobiotics is an exciting new sound effects collection from The Library by Empty Sea. It delivers 3600+ original sound effects for scifi and robots. We’re talking about almost 3 hours of material here.

    We spent over a year recording and designing Lasers, Robot Vox, Impacts, Servos, Ratcheting Metal, Ambiances, Transformations, Foley, Vehicle Bys and much much more!

    25 %
    OFF
    Ends 1567548000
    Add to cart
  • “Robot Voices” is a collection of designed vocal expressions of 50 friendly and very talkative robotic creatures. If Wall-E and R2D2 were throwing a cocktail party this is probably what you would hear! A total of 50 robotic creatures are included.

    Robot Voices highlights:

    • 50 Robotic creatures speaking
    • Many expressions per robot (25 – 65 individual words and sentences for each robot character)
    • Descriptive filenames
    • Embedded Soundminer metadata

    Add to cart
  • Sci-Fi Robotic Lifeforms 2 Play Track 4100+ sounds included $299

    It’s been 5 years since the release of our Robotic Lifeforms 1 library, and we just felt we could do more! So we teamed up with an epic team of Sound Designers to create an ultimate follow up to it all with Robotic Lifeforms 2. This is no joke, a library of love and over 4,100 files and 12.5GB!

    Using some of the most advanced microphones, Kyma, and synths, we really went all out to bring what we think is the most advanced and modern Robot library ever created. Not only do you get over 2,700 designed sounds, but you also get over 1,300 source audio files recorded in 192 kHz 24Bit with the Sanken c1000 mic, so you can pitch the sounds to infinity to create some stellar new sounds of your own.

    In our opinion, this is THE robot library to have in your tool box. We aren’t just saying that because we made it, we are saying it because we believe it to be a fact.
    Take Robotic Lifeforms 2 for a ride, and you will be happy to own the most advanced robot library ever made so far!

    Library highlights:

    • 2,700+ designed sound effects
    • 1,300+ source audio files recorded in 192 kHz 24Bit with a Sanken c1000
    • Transforms, Mechanisms, Movements
    • Power
    • Servos
    • Air Hydraulics
    • Energy
    • Footsteps
    • Impacts
    • Computer
    • Devices
    • Attack Defense
    • Textures
    • Engines
    • Synth
    • Whooshes
    • Drills
    • Air Pneumatics
    • Motors
    • Bonus Recordings
    Add to cart
  • Mechanical Robotics Lab Play Track 62 sounds included $37 $31.45

    Robotics Lab is 26 minutes/788 MB of industrial robots, 3D-printers & CNC cutters in 62 separate files – recorded in 24bit/96kHz using Sennheiser MKH microphones.

    This library gives you recordings of two different ABB industrial robots; the large IRB 6620 and the smaller IRB 120. You get both single, isolated movements and more complex sequences with the robots moving on multiple axes simultaneously. Also included are takes of the robots idling, with some subtle but interesting sounds as the result.

    I also recorded Ultimaker 2 3D-printers – 3 of them running at once, as well as isolated sounds from a single printer. A large Zünd flatbed CNC-cutter was also recorded. All in all, lots of servos and stepper-motors, with lots of whizzing, whirring, clicking and ratcheting for your sound design projects.

    You get:
    • Industrial robots, 3D-printers and more
    • Servo- & stepper motors
    • Searchable file names
    • Secure Amazon S3-powered download
    • BWF Metadata embedded – with more included in CSV and ODS (OpenOffice) formats.
    15 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • Mechanical Servo Play Track 600+ sounds included $75

    A collection of motor and machine sounds, recorded in ultra-HD 24-bit 192k resolution. You'll find a variety of electric motor sounds in this library, from sources such as cameras, car electronics, tools, pencil sharpeners, shavers, immersion blenders, disc ejects, radio controlled (RC) cars and many more. All ready to bring your robots and sci-fi scenes to life.

    Add to cart

Discover more robot sound effects here

The sound of happiness


Some principles of sound design have already been trialled within robotics. Musical sequences are often included in the auditory output of robots, but the concepts apply to all sounds. Rising pitch of non-verbal utterances are considered argumentative or angry, and slow decreasing pitch as a form of hesitation or sadness. These are both representative of neutral valences, just with positive or negative levels of arousal.

Happiness has a richer balance of upper harmonics, sadness has more emphasis on simpler lower frequencies, with little variation.

Neutral pitch is perceived as difficult to understand in terms of emotional content. High, variable pitch and dynamics sounds are perceived as excited. Duration and speed of a sound is, unsurprisingly, related to being energetic or lazy. Happiness has a richer balance of upper harmonics, sadness has more emphasis on simpler lower frequencies, with little variation. “Beeps and chirps” are one way of describing the resultant sounds, which are popular in both films and toys. Four main approaches have been adopted to date within robotics: Gibberish speech, musical utterances, non-linguistic utterances and paralinguistic utterances. All of which are effective to varying degrees, but almost all become more successful through repeated exposure.

It is also important to know when a robot is actively monitoring and ready to perform, or when we really need to know that it has powered down and there is absolute privacy. There are so many differences dependent on context, there are also all of the upcoming autonomous items such as vehicles, but many of the smart technologies will have some level autonomy, and we can use sound to reassure users that they still have control as well as to minimise the perception of risk. Truncated sound helps communicate that a device is inactive and will require a physical action for it to start up again. Standby would use a similar sound with a natural slow decay, with a corresponding gentle rise for a return to full functioning status.
 

A new form of auditory communication

Rather than slavishly duplicating human, animal or machine sounds, robotics offers the opportunity to develop an entirely new form of auditory communication.

Rather than slavishly duplicating human, animal or machine sounds, robotics offers the opportunity to develop an entirely new form of auditory communication. Extremes that were not appropriate in other devices or creatures can be highly advantageous for immediate engagement, to warn of potential damage as well as encourage close personal contact. The interactive loop can be used to audition sounds to gauge their reaction and adapt accordingly. The ability to connect via the internet to a larger database or AI ensures that an expanding range of sounds can be explored, as well as to allow an element of mimicry, either of the humans or other animate or inanimate sound sources within an environment. Source identification does not have to be confined to purely visual elements, the level of engagement with other identifiable objects can also be captured in order to refine a robot’s communication. A robot can be a highly intuitive friend, who always wants to make everyone at ease, in as an efficient and effective aural manner as possible. The robot listens and provides an auditory backdrop to convey both its intentions and its own level of engagement. If the requirement is for an efficient assistant then silence, with only essential simple sounds can be expressed. If an engaging companion is preferred, then a fully adaptive and intuitive auditory interaction can be shared. A well designed robot has the potential to have a frictionless natural auditory interaction with those around it, so that irrespective of the context a harmonious existence can be achieved.
 

A big thanks to Dr Iain McGregor for giving us a look into this fascinating topic!

 

About Dr Iain McGregor:

Dr Iain McGregor is the programme leader for the online MSc in Sound design at Edinburgh Napier University. He runs the Centre for Interaction Design’s Auralisation suite, which is a dedicated 24.4 channel surround sound facility for conducting listening tests. He is currently working on a diverse range of projects, ranging from listeners’ experiences of linear and interactive media, as well as products and environments. Find him on LinkedIn here.
 

Please share this:


 


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • Mechanical Gizmo Play Track 2500+ sounds included, 244 mins total
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $125 $60

    Gizmo is a mechanism library for designing mechanical actions in machinery without the engines. This library covers the gambit of steam, ronks, clicks, clanks, clunks, servos and all sorts of mechanical actions from various props.

    Unlike most libraries, this one was recorded at 192 with a stereo pair of Sanken CO100k microphones for extreme lossless pitching, so you can take something small like a typewriter, and make it sound like a massive printing machine.

    52 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • App FX is a comprehensive collection of 445 sound effects designed specifically for app makers looking for original notifications, alerts, tones, and general effects.

    Designed using both software and retro synthesizers, this collection contains a wide variety of sounds to accompany every action and function on a modern phone, tablet or desktop application: from simple clicks and tones, to complex melodic alerts and interface sounds.

    This collection is divided into 11 folders, according the the type of sound:
    • Alarms: 34
    • Alert General: 214
    • Alert Negative: 18
    • Alert Positive: 24
    • Buttons and Clicks: 15
    • Game FX: 51
    • Interface: 16
    • Messaging: 11
    • Retro: 20
    • Swell Alerts: 9
    • Tones and Beeps: 33

    All sounds were programmed, designed, processed and edited at 24-bit / 96kHz, with embedded meta data and accompanying spreadsheet.

    Add to cart
  • rOtation is a sound effects library built for sound design centered around things that spin. It contains nearly 200 exceptional sounds and is the first of its kind. If you’re looking for brand new sound design source material, rOtation is the ticket.

    Several months of research and recording has led to this very unique collection. It’s props range from ball bearings to trash cans; magnets to fireworks; water to nuts – all in the realm of rotation.

    It contains sounds of things that have never been included in a sound effects library before: The sound of a Euler’s Disk speeding up exponentially fast – the whir and chatter of Hurricane balls spinning to 5000+ RPM – Nuts and quarters zipping and buzzing by in a rumbling balloon – The power of neodymium magnets bending the tones of vibrating glass.

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Roomtones & Ext. Ambiences British Stately Home Play Track 256 sounds included, 496 mins total $49

    British Stately Home is a collaboration between two award-winning sound designers, Stefan Henrix (Chernobyl, Batman Begins) and Steve Fanagan (Room, Frank). It is a collection of 256 files recorded at 24bit/96kHz, totalling 18.6GB. The recordings are a mixture of mono, stereo, LCR and 5.0 files. In some cases there are multiple perspectives on the same recording (close, mid and wide). There are also Impulse Responses from several of the building's more characterfully reverberant rooms, which have been recorded from different perspectives and edited for use with Altiverb.

    Sounds for this library were recorded over two days in a beautifully maintained rural British Stately Home; a late-18th-century neo-classical mansion. We set out to record any and all aspects of the building and its surroundings. The collection includes doors, windows, fireplaces, clocks, drips, keys and various unusual, period specific props we came across.

    The interior of the building was one of the quietest places either of us have ever recorded and the Roomtones we've captured here are some of the most still and neutral recordings we've both made.

    All of the sounds are authentic and the spaces we recorded in are reverberant, have their own ambience, and have coloured each of the recordings with the natural acoustic of this magnificent building.

    We often set-up with multiple mics to capture different perspectives of the same recordings and these will hopefully offer the user interesting options as they work with these sounds.

    At times we have left our own movements at the beginning and end of recordings, as they captured something of the building's unique acoustic and have proven useful to both of us in our own film work with this library. This is a diverse and versatile library and the recordings take well to pitch and time shifting, and to other plugin manipulation.

    Equipment Used: Sanken CMS-7S, DPA4060, Sennheiser MKH60, Rode NT4, Sound Devices 702T, Sound Devices USB Pre-2, Roland R26

  • Destruction & Impact Shockwave Play Track 153 sounds included $55 $44

    SHOCKWAVE is a collection of aggressive and destructive sound effects for modern sci-fi, industrial cinematic music, soundtracks and hybrid sound design creation.

    The sound pack contains explosive heavy hitting sounds, digital glitch, dirty blast, heavy ping, electric shock, flash, buzz, stutters and source recordings – a total of 150+ WAV Samples in 24 bit / 48 kHz.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1560981600
  • Trains Vintage Tram Play Track 28+ sounds included, 40 mins total $29 $24

    Vintage Tram features sounds of a fully working light rail vehicle in small valley near Dresden/Germany. The 2-axle railcars were built from 1957 until 1967 with reference to concepts from the 1930s.
    The recorded tram drives along an 8 kilometer track through a small valley that is surrounded by reverberant rock faces of various intensity.

    The Library contains recordings from the driver´s seat, from several positions in the wagon, both with and without passengers. Also included are exterior recordings of squeaky approaches and pass-bys, couplings, doorbells, and door openings/closings.

    Recorded in 192 kHz the material allows for extensive downsampling to generate versatile soundscapes far beyond the original. Please listen to Audio Demo No.2

    17 %
    OFF
    Ends 1561845600
  • Weather Rain & Thunder Play Track 53 + sounds included, 162 mins total $40 $30

    The Rain & Thunder sound library features 53 files covering different types of rain, from light showers to heavy falls. Files were recorded in different locations, like open space, forest, under the plastic or metal roofs and some experiments like rain recorded inside metal grill or bucket. There are also few thunder recordings, mostly subtle and long ones. It’s 5.31 GB 96kHz pack with total length of 162 minutes.

    25 %
    OFF
    Ends 1560981600
  • Ambisonics Madrid Ambisonic City Life Play Track 40 sounds included, 180 mins total $120 $75

    We recorded Madrid last winter, capturing 40 beautiful tracks in ambisonic format, 48Khz and 24 bits HD. As always, top quality recordings specially designed for film audio projects. The library was decoded and mixed in Dolby ATMOS.

    Included Ambix Ambisonic, 7.1.2 Atmos Bed, 5.1 and ST versions.

    Another way to get this library:
    Also included in the Surround Sound LAB Complete Bundle, featuring 25+ SFX libraries at a huge discount.
    38 %
    OFF
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.