Sound Sketching Workshop

With our partners we met to exercise collaborative sound sketching. With the use of toy cars, our voices and other basic sound generation method we approached a sonification task.

Imagine an exercise where you, as an UXer, designer or developer would like to sonify a use case of entering a highway and merging in traffic in autonomous car. The exploration of user needs within SIIC project showed that potentially beneficial for the users of autonomous cars would be to present the car’s intentions. The users who might experience low level of trust and acceptance for this technology will need reassurance that the car ‘knows what is doing’ and preparation for the manoeuvres. With that information we performed a quick and dirty vocalisation session (4 participants). The outcome of the vocalisation session contained both presentation of the sketches and feedback on the character and intention of the sounds. The big advantage is the ‘sketchiness’ of the sound, which helps to discuss the intention of sound rather than its aesthetics.

Check out a short audio clips made by Keezy app and some fun pictures of how we worked.

A sonification of autonomous car off-ramp manoeuvre.
A sonification of autonomous car lane merging manoeuvre.
No tools to generate sound? No worries! Grab the toy cars and use your voice to present sound ideas (only vocalisation – no words allowed)
You have the tools and know how to use them? Go for it! And don’t forget your toy cars.



17th, September, 2019

University of Nottingham, UK


When to start thinking sound? Building collaboration between UX research, design ethnography and sonic interaction design in the context of Autonomous Driving


Sonic interaction has a great potential to lift up the user experience in autonomous cars. There are several aspects such us counteracting motion sickness, increasing users’ trust and acceptance, improving usability and support the formation of accurate mental models, and providing a pleasant and enjoyable experience which we find the most interesting [1].

The autonomous future opens up for a great adventure of storytelling. Sounds will no longer need to be in a form of short, intrusive bursts (e.g. notifications or warnings). Connecting the automotive world with the gaming industry, we can provide to our users the whole new experience with sound being a part of the fascinating journey rather than just an attention-catching warning.

One of the major challenges of user experience (UX) design in autonomous driving (AD) is to identify emerging future needs of users. However, in our everyday work and throughout the design process, we often experience a communication gap between UX researchers and sound designers. Working with insights that frame possible future interactions and user needs requires collaboration and more exploratory research that enables interdisciplinary modes of working. Our response to this design challenge is bridging the communication gap using design ethnography, co-design, ideation and rapid prototyping methods.

[1] P. Larsson, J. Maculewicz, J. Fagerlönn, M. Lachmann, ‘’Auditory Displays for Automated Driving – Challenges and Opportunities,’’ in Proc. 25th Int. Conf. on Auditory Displays, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, June 23-27, 2019


The workshop is a full day of activity, scheduled for 8 working hours, with a mid-morning break, a lunch break, and a mid-afternoon break.

During this interactive workshop we will demonstrate how we are using design thinking with a focus on the exploratory and early stages by incorporating sound explorations. We will be using design ethnography to bring everyday experiences of acoustic urban environments into the early on into the sonic design process.


Intended audience: UX designers, UX and user researchers, postgraduate students and industry practitioners with interest in collaborative methodologies.

Notification of acceptance: Ongoing

Limit: Maximum 20 participants

Length of workshop: full day


Participants are required to send a submission in a form of an extended abstract (500 – 1000 words) answering the following questions: Is there a gap between sound designers and UX researchers? How we might fill this communication gap by using new methodologies? We encourage submission reflecting on the first three stages of design thinking (empathize, define, ideate) but we don’t restrict just to this three. Participants should briefly describe their background, approach and experience of incorporating human-centred design, sound and ethnographic approaches early on into the design thinking process.

Submitted papers will be reviewed by the organisers and the authors of the most adequate submissions will be invited and notified of acceptance shortly after the submission deadline.

The extended abstracts should be sent to {}


Justyna Maculewicz, PhD

Justyna holds a PhD in sonic interaction design Aalborg University Copenhagen. She is currently working at Volvo Cars as a sound interaction/experience designer in the User Experience Centre. She explores the sound world from both a scientific and artistic perspective. She checks the extent to which we are able to ‘mess with’ our perception of the world and ourselves by manipulating sounds. Her two goals at work is making people think truly multimodal as well as to incorporate sound into the early stages of the design process.

Katalin Osz, PhD

Katalin is a User Researcher at Volvo Cars and an affiliated design researcher at the Department of Intelligent Systems and Digital Design at Halmstad University, Sweden. She has a mixed background in cultural anthropology and design research. She holds a MSc in Culture and Society from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a PhD in Built Environment from Loughborough University. Before joining the User Experience Centre at Volvo Cars, she was working on various international design research projects and co-founded the Anthroengineering network. Her work focuses on design ethnography, speculative and human centric design.

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