06 March 2014

…digital lion

Smug cat in a car making a lion's roar
Buses can be scary. Once whilst aboard a number 12 I was involuntarily fenced in by a lady three-sheets-to-the-wind trying to offer a lap dance to an indignant fellow behind us whilst 'singing' Blurred Lines in between declarations of how she was the fittest person on the bus.

On another occasion, I saw someone obliviously step out in front of one of Brighton's hybrid buses, nearly get squished, and jump back in understandable surprise.

It's sadly not uncommon that some poor pedestrian is accidentally struck by a bus in Brighton. I've seen it happen myself, by buses which - unlike the quiet hybrids - make big, gruff diesel engine noises that provide our ears with an unconscious audible alert. When one of the quiet ones passes, it comes sometimes with a double-take of recognition. Therefore the thought of a future Brighton with silent lumps of metal rolling around fills one with a sense of brrrrr. So when I read a piece on the future of electric automobile sound design coming out of Sweden, my mind was put both at ease and on edge.

In Street Sounds, Eliza Williams writes in Creative Review on the need for sympathetic sounds to emanate from the future milieu of electric automobiles and the associated potential our cities have in becoming audibly harmonised as a result. However, despite the noble task at hand to make the noise coming from our cars sound like angels brushing their teeth or something, I fear we're looking directly into the customised mobile phone ringtone abyss. With cars being ever-more connected to owners via our handheld devices, it's just one minuscule step away for mankind to personally choose a lion's roar as the sound to pull away from traffic lights by. With the chance to hack/add/customise your car noise, and without sensible regulation, this decade's Crazy Frog will become a terrible reality on the world's A and B roads whilst digital marketeers jizz in their pants at the unfolding viral opportunities.