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Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSC)

Tobias Kappeler

Tobias is a multidisciplinary interaction designer working at the intersection of science, technology and design to foster social innovations. His work ranges from designing products to systems and services in both the digital and physical space.

Before pursuing the MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering, Tobias completed a BA Process Design at HyperWerk in Switzerland, where he designed and developed virtual reality (VR) applications in the field of design and education.

Tobias has eight years of training and professional experience as a metal worker and construction manager, specialised in designing new, and retrofitting existing, public and private spaces.

Tobias’ multidisciplinary background combined with his highly agile design process allows him to approach design through different lenses and bridge between industries. He is passionate about developing solutions and applications that seamlessly integrate into people’s lives with meaningful interactions. Tobias enjoys working with diverse teams to tackle complex challenges.

Tobias is an audio enthusiast, music producer and DJ who is fascinated by the emotional energy sounds can release and the universal language of music that exists across cultures and societies.

Dinkum creates immersive customisable spatial audio environments which facilitate a more natural conversation in remote digital environments. 

For the last year, we were stuck on video calls in front of a screen. As we learnt to operate teleconferencing applications, these applications emphasised the visual aspect of the experience delivered through the camera feed.

Using cameras for remote conversations oftentimes does not foster a natural conversational environment, and brings about several challenges. Participants over analyse themselves and others and when seeing multiple people at once it becomes difficult to comprehend the situation. Furthermore, if people do not face the camera or leave the camera field, it seems as if they are not paying attention, and if the camera is turned off it raises the question of why. In addition, a camera feed requires more bandwidth and can increase latency, which in turn can reduce conversation fluency.  

An audio-only conversation on the other hand is more effective at conveying emotions to other people compared to an audio-visual one. Additionally, an audio-only form of communication does not have the issue of a camera feed or any privacy concerns.  

Dinkum creates a spatial audio environment that matches the participants on the call and allows users to customize the experience to their personal preferences. Additionally, users can immerse themselves in an ambisonic (full-sphere surround sound format) soundscape. 

Dinkum makes remote conversations more natural and can increase the conversation fluency as well as the participants' sense of presence and intimacy in the conversation with other participants. Choosing the room type and adjusting your distance to other participants adds an extra layer of seamless interactions to remote conversations that we know from physical ones. Dinkum allows for a new form of communication among groups and has the potential to revolutionize remote digital communication.

Dinkum - Keeping it raw and honest. — Immersive spatial audio group conversations.
Dinkum — Overview of the core functionality of the application.
— Users can choose a room-size that matches the type of conversation and the people they are with.
— Users can change their distance relative to others to enhance the experience and make conversations more realistic.
— Position of people on the call is fixed and gets updated automatically according to the number of participants on the call.
— Users can customise their character to their liking. An abstract representation was chosen to shift the focus on the audio experience
— As each person hears differently and has an individual head related transfer function, Dinkum comes with a set of predefined HRTF's and can incorporate personalised HRTF's in the future.
— Individuals can adjust the audio experience to their liking through the volume of the ambisonic background sounds or the reverberation.
— Spatial audio signal recorded with a binaural microphone and routed through Ableton Live and a virtual audio interface through zoom. A-B testing between a spatial and mono audio signal in Ableton live to experience the difference between the two signals in real-time.
— Testing a group conversation of three people spatialised for one person.
— Immersive group conversation with 1st order ambisonic (full-sphere surround sound format) background sounds and reverberation for different room simulations.
— Prototyping the interaction and Interface Design through real-time manipulation of the audio in Ableton Live and the interface in Blender through OSC protocol.