RjDj has made a name for itself by producing mind-bending mobile audio experiences. All has been quiet from the company in the past few years but now it’s back with Hear, an iOS app it hopes will transform your relationship with the sounds around you.
The app requires headphones and is made up of seven scenes that affect audio around you in different ways. Some are practical (enhancing speech so you can hear it more clearly over background noise) while others are designed to just make the world sound more interesting and enjoyable.
The ‘Happy’ scene, for example, adds effects to the ambient sound around you to make it seem more ‘ecstatic.’ As I type these words, the sounds of my fingers on the keys is transformed into what sounds like a nearby stream of water, while the other occasional noises I hear, like alert noises from Slack or me coughing, add audio textures that make me feel like I’m working in a rain forest.
This video from RjDj gives you an idea of what to expect:
Hear is a return to the original vision for the company. “We kind of came back to the very first version of RjDj from 2008, back to the roots,” says CEO Michael Breidenbrücker. “It’s some of the original filters and scenes with an up-to-date interface.
“The vision behind RjDj has always been to deliver very immersive acoustic experiences. However, after the initial release of the RjDj app we saw that the concept was attractive to a niche market and we wanted to expand the market by moving into a more musical direction. That worked and we saw 1 million downloads in the first week of Inception – The App in 2012.”
With hardware firms like Doppler Labs and Bragi receiving press attention over the past couple of years for in-ear devices that enhance the sound of the world around you, Breidenbrücker felt that it was time for a comeback.
In practice, Hear will either make perfect sense to you or you’ll fail to see the point. Personally, I like the idea of detaching myself from the world around me. The ‘Happy’ and ‘Office’ scenes seem particularly good for this, once I’ve tweaked the settings for each to my personal taste and spent a few minutes acclimatizing to what can initially be some pretty freaky sounds.
I’ve yet to try the Sleep scene properly, but I’d like to – it promises “the most deep and surreal dreams of your life.”
Hear is free to download and there are currently no plans to monetize it. “We mainly want to see if the concept works for our users,” says Breidenbrücker. “If it works, ultimately every headset will have to deliver this kind of experience and every headset will need an earOS. That could be us.”