Sound Design Project

This collaborative project was completed in spring 2021 at Umeå Institute of Design as part of the three week course in Sound Design. This project is a collaboration between students from the MFA programmes in Interaction Design and Advanced Product Design.

Sound Labels

Graphic labels depict and describe, they don’t respond. What if we could ask items for their best-before date or filter them by dietary preference?

In this collaboration project, we envision browsing the kitchen with a smart ring and sound signals.


Affordance and impact of graphic labels

Boundary & Opportunity

The EU regulates mandatory food information, such as the list of ingredients, the ‘use by’ date, and a nutrition declaration among other. Food producers need to provide consumers with such information.

Without the possibility to ask, it may take consumers a while to find the right piece of information, or conclude whether a product falls within their dietary restrictions.


Removing graphic labels

What if labels provided us only with the information that is relevant to us? What if we could ask our fridge for items that are about to turn bad?

Sound Design: modules for scalability

With the guidance of sound designer Andreas Estensen we develop a modular approach to sound design, that makes it applicable to any item. We create sounds in the visual synthesiser Vital, explore sound qualities and describe the desired qualities with the help of image boards.

The sound board serves to define and communicate the intention with the sound design.

Result – Browsing the kitchen


Identify calls out the name of any product once the consumer touches it.


Browse builds on identification, as a succession of events, where the ring comes in critical proximity to identifiable products. When the consumer moves the hand along, the response needs to be snappy and short.


Find allows the consumer to filter nearby products by any spoken description that an language learning model can process. It would be possible to search and find products that are best before tomorrow, vegan, rich in magnesium, or suitable ingredients for pancakes.


Creating your own labels

As you might have noticed, we displayed two particular cases that illustrate the boundaries of this vision. When the consumer picks up grandma’s strawberry jam, a homemade product, that means someone must have used a blank label and described it, similar like when your grandma sends you a package of homemade goodies. When the user finds the apple, it implies natural products needed a label. The idea of sound labels was to replace graphic labels. It becomes more complicated to label things, that come without a label.

Self-generated Labels for homemade products


Team mates: Laurenz Simonis, Lucas Gottschalg (both from MFA Advanced Product Design).

Tutors: Andreas Estensen (Sound Design), Thomas Degn (Product Design), Ylva Fernaeus (Interaction Design), Peter Lundholm (Software), Rickard Åström (Interaction Lab).