selective reality + tone

An approach to augmented reality through selective sensory filtering

This project responded to the brief of an international Microsoft Research design competition: in a world of a billion sensors, how will we make sense of it all?

Indeed, with countless stimuli vying for our attention, we are suffering from information overload and are increasingly losing the ability to focus.

With augmented reality technologies entering the mainstream, it is our responsibility as researches and designers to ensure that they will not just add another layer of distraction, but instead be something that enriches our lives and allows greater focus on the things that matter.

Selective Reality is a response to augmented reality based on selective sensory filtering and Tone is a conceptual application of this approach for a near-future device that enables greater focus by selectively balancing auditory stimuli.

It comes in the form of a pair of earbuds that allow for sound isolation, noise reduction, and environmental sonification using a gestural interface. Cup your ear, and the environment will be enhanced, allowing you to zoom in on desired sounds. Hold your ear shut and the soundscape adjusts its levels to a safe volume.

The project was selected as one of nine finalists and my teammate Simon Herzog and myself traveled to the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA to present at the Microsoft Design Expo at the 2014 Faculty Summit. While there was no final winner, we were awarded the prize in the Most Thought-Provoking category. It is worth noting that most participating schools had about twelve weeks to work on this competition while we completed our entry in a six-day sprint.