This audio and visual device creates an immersive experience for individuals and groups

Most of the world has returned to the “new normal” way of living, which involves going outdoors and working in offices again, but the effects of being stuck at home for months have changed our lifestyles and mindsets almost permanently. There has been a greater awareness of our home environments, both in the medical sense as well as the psychological ones, paying attention to how we might have been living unhealthy lives until reality hits us like a ton of virus-coated bricks. While installing air purifiers and other disinfecting machines in our homes and rooms easily takes care of health concerns, creating relaxing and refreshing spaces in busy quarters is less so. One concept tries to help create your own small sanctuary at home, and it uses the science of acoustics to do so.

Designer: Hao-Xuan Lu, Yinchi Lin

Any speaker can play calming tunes or inspiring songs, but most of the speakers designed for home use blast the waves throughout the entire house, sometimes at 360 degrees even. You could, however, also just put on your favorite pair of buds, but that also cancels out the opportunity for others to enjoy the same refreshing experience. Balancing the needs of the individual and the group has always been a delicate dance no matter the context, and the Whisper light and sound system tries to accommodate both, though not at the same time, of course.

At first glance, Whisper looks more like a lampstand, and it does function like one to some extent. Although it might be less technologically impressive than the audio part, lighting plays an important role in creating a more immersive music experience. In particular, the lamp changes its hues and intensity to match the music that’s currently playing, helping set the mood for a more relaxing or a more invigorating experience.

The disc sitting below the lamp is actually the source of the Whisper’s audio, and its strange shape is due to the fact that it can actually change where it’s facing. Directional audio makes the music you play feel more personal and more tuned to you, pun intended. The appliance also has a camera and a bit of intelligence, so you can make it follow your movement or use hand gestures to control the direction of the speaker.

When you have friends and family over, however, you might want to share your music with others, in which case a directional speaker might be pointless. Whisper, however, also has a “shower” mode that directs the sound upward, making it bounce off ceilings and spreading the audio wider than it could have when it was pushing it towards a single direction. That way, everyone can enjoy your music together, presuming they have the same tastes, of course.

The concepts and technologies underlying Whisper aren’t exactly novel nor groundbreaking, but their combination and use in a single product create something interesting, visually and technically. Simple products with compounding benefits for both physical health as well as mental well-being have become fashionable in the past two years, and hopefully, we’ll see more ideas pop up and even make their way to real products.