[ Thumbnail ] Feel-Good Sounds Made Possible by Technology #3

Feel-Good Sounds Made Possible by Technology

#3 How Designers and Users Inspire Each Other

February 22, 2023

Technology That Transforms Everyday Spaces

The TransAcoustic Guitar takes your playing experience to new heights with unplugged effects resonating from the guitar itself. Meanwhile, the Automotive Sound System elevates your music enjoyment by creating a uniquely rich acoustic space inside the vehicle. Instruments and car speakers may seem worlds apart, but these two products from Yamaha share a common theme — to realize truly immersive sound through technology.

With the TransAcoustic Guitar, you can relish the sensation of performing in a large concert hall even when you’re practicing in a small room. This is a surreal adventure for the player, which Shingo Ekuni, who manages planning in the Guitar Division, describes as “similar to how Virtual Reality (VR) headsets transport you to an entirely different simulated environment.”

[ Thumbnail ] Shingo Ekuni from the Guitar Strategy Planning Group, Guitar Division
Shingo Ekuni from the Guitar Strategy Planning Group, Guitar Division

The highlight of the Automotive Sound System, on the other hand, is the impressive audio that almost makes you forget that you’re inside a car. Goh Tsuchiya, who is in charge of the planning of car audio systems, says, “Whether you’re going on a special trip with family and friends, or driving on your daily commute, our in-vehicle acoustics will enrich your journey by drawing you into the world of music. What makes this technology so valuable is that it can create touching moments across your driving scene by opening your heart up to the music.”

[ Thumbnail ] Goh Tsuchiya from the Strategy Promotion Group, CX Strategy Promotion Department, Electronic Devices Division
Goh Tsuchiya from the Strategy Promotion Group, CX Strategy Promotion Department, Electronic Devices Division

One similarity between the TransAcoustic Guitar and the Automotive Sound System is how they both employ technology to give you a sense of freedom and joy that goes beyond what is possible in your actual physical environment. The common Key is using technology and human senses to transform an everyday space into a world of its own.

Experiencing the Energy of Music Together

When a product is designed to enhance an individual activity, like playing an instrument or driving a vehicle, you might not understand its true value until you try it out yourself. That’s why you’re all the more excited to share the experience with others once you understand its worth.

“I find that fans of the TransAcoustic Guitar are more eager to share their comments about the product on social media. They tell others that it is their favorite guitar and recommend them to try it out. The word-of-mouth response is more evident compared to our other guitars,” says Taiki Oshiro, who is in charge of guitar marketing.

[ Thumbnail ] Taiki Oshiro from the Guitar Marketing & Sales Group, Guitar Division
Taiki Oshiro from the Guitar Marketing & Sales Group, Guitar Division

“I can imagine an avid user showing off their TransAcoustic Guitar at a home party. The guests are amazed by the unbelievable resonance produced by what looks like a normal acoustic guitar. The guitarist then encourages their friends to also try playing it, because its brilliance is not something that can be described in words. I think it’s this desire to share the unexplainable sensation that widens the community of players.”

Likewise, someone who has experienced being surrounded by incredible sound inside their car is bound to want to introduce their companions to the same thrill. The designers behind Yamaha’s in-vehicle audio, therefore, made the extra effort to ensure that the ideal sound reaches every person in the vehicle, not just those seated in the front row.

“We embarked on installing speakers to the headrest of every seat. It’s not something manufacturers usually do, but we went forward with the idea because we wanted everyone in the car to be able to share the energy of music together,” reflects Katsuya Hirano, who oversees the development of car audio.

[ Thumbnail ] Katsuya Hirano, CX Development Group, CX Strategy Promotion Department, Electronic Devices Division
Katsuya Hirano, CX Development Group, CX Strategy Promotion Department, Electronic Devices Division

“Most people probably associate three-dimensional acoustics with movie theaters, but cars are incomparably smaller in size and with fewer seats. This brings its own set of challenges and opportunities. While we need to deal with the difficulty of designing sound in a limited space, we can focus on delivering the best possible sound to a select number of people. It’s a big mission, but I find it a rewarding area to work in.”

Users Can Inspire the Future

Another Key connecting the TransAcoustic Guitar and Automotive Sound System is how the designers of each product are driven to advance technology by tuning in to the creativity of users. When the internet first came out, social media hardly existed, but people unleashed their imagination and found unexpected ways to benefit from the new technology. This encouraged the development of countless systems and platforms that the original computer scientists never would have imagined. As history suggests, technologies evolve through unexpected ways of use. Yamaha’s innovative guitar and car audio also have the potential to inspire new tools and services through the creative harmony of designers and users.

While in-vehicle audio is currently focused on playing music, it may serve a variety of needs in the future as self-driving technology becomes widespread and the car transforms into an alternative space for entertainment and work. The science and skills behind the Automotive Sound System could well be used to upgrade the experience of movies, games, or online meetings, making them fully immersive. “If people’s choice of in-car activities changes, so too will the unique acoustic expressions we can offer through our in-car audio,” Hirano imagines.

Oshiro, who introduces the TransAcoustic Guitar to customers, also believes that it is the users who will ultimately expand the possibilities of the product. “Musicians have gained an exciting new tool that is the TransAcoustic Guitar. I can’t wait to see how people will use this instrument in their creative endeavors. I hope they surprise Yamaha and the world with their innovative ideas.”

Ekuni strongly agrees. “They say rock music never would have been born without the invention of the electric guitar. The novel instrument sparked the development of a whole new genre of music. In the same way, I hope the TransAcoustic Guitar develops into its own instrument category that is adored all over the world. It would be a dream to get to the point where musicians perform a type of music written specifically for the TransAcoustic Guitar.”

History has shown us that technological advances contribute to the evolution of music, making the world more interesting. While it is impossible to predict the future accurately, one thing that is certain is that music, technology, and human senses will continue to resonate with each other to shape the times ahead. Whether it’s a magical guitar performance that impresses people, or an uplifting drive that fills the whole car with energy and rhythm, the collection of heart-trembling moments will spread joy and hope to all corners of the globe. That’s the kind of future that Ekuni, Oshiro, Hirano, and Tsuchiya hope to see.

(Interview date: September 2022)

Previous Page #2 The Quest for the Ideal Car Audio

Three-Part Series: Feel-Good Sounds Made Possible by Technology

#1 The Engaging Guitar that Amplifies the Joy of Music

#2 The Quest for the Ideal Car Audio

#3 How Designers and Users Inspire Each Other

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