I’m six or seven, sitting cross-legged on my parents’ bed and watching a spring thunderstorm roll through our town. Or listening, really, safe in that room, as my dad teaches me to count the seconds between the thunder and lightning and calculate the bolt’s distance from our house. I’ve found thunder relaxing ever since, and during finals season I used to write papers to hour-long YouTube recordings of storms.
For you, maybe rain means an afternoon nap with the boyfriend. Or perhaps you live in Seattle and could do with a little less drizzle, thank you very much. Set against a mesmerizing wash of fluorescent color, an entrancing new website, The Emotions of Sound, asks users to submit how different noises make them feel.
After selecting their reaction to a baby’s cry or cellphone buzz, users see a graphic of how they matched up against the public’s answers.
The results are unsurprising for the most part: Almost everyone agrees that a vibrating phone is annoying (31%) or stressful (38%). A barrage of fireworks brought out the nostalgia in 32% of users, perhaps reminding them of their first New Year’s or Fourth of July. The quiz ends by telling you what percentage of users agreed with your responses and a prompt to tweet your results.
But the why behind the project isn’t explicit, and only by researching the site’s lone branding element, a logo for a company called Amplifon, can you guess the project’s raison d'être.
Amplifon is a hearing care company and the largest retailer of hearing aids in the United States. Only one out of five people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one, according to the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Hearing Disorders. Epiphany, the marketing firm that Amplifon commissioned to create the site, has used a few rainbow webkit-filters and carefully edited audio to create a sonic tour of the hope, serenity, and yes, annoyance, that the hearing impaired might otherwise be missing. Their subtle campaign is a simple and sweet testament to the soundscapes that so often remain in the background of our lives.