Free on Apple iPad
A fascinating free app from the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco, Sound Uncovered explores the different types of sound in the world and the hows and whys of their production.
Users swipe sideways to view different ‘exhibits’, with rich graphics and interactive features for each ‘page’, including demonstrations of the principles explained.
The writing is funny and explains quite complex ideas simply and in an engaging matter. It’s purty to look at with good quality video for interviews and provides a wealth of interesting information about audio phenomena around the world, and even if you’re not a museum fan, it’s bound to have something that will catch your interest – one of the sections deals with the audio engineering involved in making cars, and all the different things manufacturers will do to enhance or simulate the sounds in a car (and perhaps ‘enhance’ your decision to buy, as well).
Singing sand dunes, car engines and human echolocators, oh my!
For instance, the app tells me the BMW M5 employs a soundtrack played through of motor music played through the speaker system when users put their foot down on the pedal – the engine surge they hear is this soundtrack, called ‘engine sound enhancement’.
Another section deals with singing sand dunes, or the sounds sand dunes make when they are moved, avalanche or when the wind wanders its way through the wending wilderness
There’s a (not professional) ear test, information on human echolocators, or people who “see” with sound, tests to see whether you can talk and listen at the same time and testing your eyes versus your ears.
The instructions are simple, there’s a navigation layer available throughout by double tapping, so if you don’t want to scroll back through everything to get to the contents page, you don’t have to. There’s also a link to the Museum’s website and to its other offering Colour Uncovered, an interactive book about, you guessed it, colour.
The only complaint I’d have to make is there’s just not enough; there are 12 ‘exhibits’, but I want more.