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Designing Across Senses by John Alderman, Christine W. Park

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Chapter 8. The Elements of Multimodal Design

IN OSAKA, THE SUBWAY system, like any other, connects a number of stations all around the city (see Figure 8-1). What is unique is that a different song plays at each stop. Each station has its own melody, allowing people to hear when and where they are getting off. This is especially important in a city where many people catnap during their commute. The station arrival songs double as a kind of spatial alarm clock—for arrival at a place, not a specific time. The world is an easier place when one’s location in it is thoughtfully but memorably communicated.

Subways in Osaka, Japan, play a different tune for each stop, subtly alerting zoned out or sleeping passengers that their station is near (Source: Tennen-Gas, Creative Commons Share Alike)
Figure 8-1. Subways in Osaka, Japan, play a different tune for each stop, subtly alerting zoned out or sleeping passengers that their station is near (Source: Tennen-Gas, Creative Commons Share Alike)

The physical world is pretty self-evident to us. We can sense the ocean is nearby from the smell of salt and the sound of waves. We know that coffee is almost ready by the smell wafting from the kitchen. When we start to shiver and feel uncomfortable, we put on a sweater. We do a reasonably good job of figuring out what is going on around us. There are many different kinds of sensory information, and we use them in many different ways.

Using Physical Information

There are many different ways to tell when someone is attracted to you. Their pupils may dilate, making their eyes appear ...

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