What is MinimalSee?


Few words:

It’s a new kind of mobile apps without necessity of seeing screen, but hearing sound. Very useful when walking or driving. Just swipe, tap and listen!


More words:

MinimalSee is a mobile App to bring Sound User Interface (SUI) or call Audio User Interface (AUI) design into practice. MinimalSee is not typical App which employs Graphics User Interface (GUI) model in mobile Operating System (OS) such as iOS and Android. It’s completely different User Interface (UI) design which employs the model of SUI, which relies on sound and audio as primary means of “display”, also called “auditory display”. By virtualizing UI object into auditory space, instead of visual screen, eye free operation can be achieved. This is different mindset from GUI concept.

MinimalSee utilizes simple gesture as control input to device. By defining and standardizing generic gestures in SUI system, all SUI applications may share common control and UI model. The design philosophy is “simple and intuitive”.  Think about the buttons of traditional music player: stop, play, fast forward and backward. This control model is still used since it’s invented 40~50 years ago. Today we have more technologies for better design. It is surprising that few people think about improving it. In many use cases, when media content is audio, why do we get visual involved for control and navigation? The media itself have all clues. To control and navigate in audible media, we can have extra audio cue along with media itself to help user being aware of position and status, which may be more intuitive. MinimalSee is trying to establish a new model for audio navigation using intuitive gesture control method. One good example is old analog radio receiver. When we tune in a radio station, we may look at frequency panel. But more clue comes from the tuning sound like bird chirp to indicate the tuned station. Often, we can neglect the frequency labels on panel by just listening. Frequency label is redundant information only when needed. Turning knob and listening, isn’t that simple? As touch screen interface as mobile phone, this model is mapped to gesture swipe and tap. This simple UI model is what MinimalSee strives to pursue: simple gesture input; rich sound and audio output.

New 2017 California driving law states: drives may only use one finger to tap or swipe the screen. That’s exactly the model of interaction with MinimalSee. The design is well-suited to driving condition. All gestures have no notion for touch position on screen.

MinimalSee is not single application. It is a platform to have built-in SUI Apps. The built-in SUI Apps may be installed or uninstalled. To help user to bridge the gap of traditional GUI based visual display to auditory display, MinimalSee is still designed to make use of visual display but as little as possible and not rely on it. Thus, it helps user to understand the model of SUI from familiar GUI concept. Once user gets used to new SUI model, user may ignore the visual display completely and operate MinimalSee in blind. The ultimate goal of SUI, however, is no-see at all. MinimalSee is the first step of this effort.

The control interactions in MinimalSee contains swipe up and down, left and right, tap, double taps and long press. The general guideline is that swiping up and down control the built-in App navigation or major jump in content like seeking soundtrack. Swiping left and right navigate in various mode inside one built-in App and fast browsing in one soundtrack. Tap is generally getting feedback of current built-in App state. Long press dives into app temporarily. Double taps switch app in and out, play and pause. User may need some practice to get used to the sound feedback, which is designed as short and informative at same time. The visual display is not retained. It fades out if no interaction occurs. It helps to save battery as well.

Here is demo video: