Optical Soundsystem is a speculative design prototype for an augmented reality (AR) application that would allow you to "see" music within your environment. With it, you’d identify a speaker in your home and generate a real-time visualisation of the sounds you're listening to; allowing you to experience your music not just aurally but also visually and spatially.
Developed by ManvsMachine, a design and direction studio with locations in London and Los Angeles, together with IKEA and Space 10.
Optical Soundsystem would show a user visualisations of the waves and frequencies emitted from a single or multi-speaker sound system set up in an impressive display of colorful formations. The sound waves would bounce off and wrap around objects in your apartment and you’d be able to customise what kind of style you’d like to see.
'Audio visualisations are far from being a new idea, but what was interesting to us was taking this idea that people are already familiar with and re-approaching it in the most spatial, tactile, and highest-fidelity way possible.'
The visuals would be achieved by identifying the speakers and their orientation with object detection and pose estimation using a modern camera-phone, as well as configuring each speaker to synchronise audio coming from it. Simultaneously, a three-dimensional (3D) model of the surroundings is constructed using LiDAR. The visual 'sound waves' are a 3D representation of the music as it moves around and interacts with the surroundings.
'We wanted to develop something that anyone, anywhere, would be able to experience. Devices aside, augmented reality and virtual reality are inherently accessible technologies – so we just did our best to embrace that.'