How Listening To Random Sound Can Unlock A Trapped Mind

By Lisa Napoli
Tribune Interactive

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As columnist Lisa Napoli shows us, entrepreneur David Tobin hopes to use his sound recordings called “audiojack” to take back our imaginations from the onslaught of words, images, video and other stimuli we are bombarded with daily.


David Tobin took to the stage at a recent technology conference in downtown Los Angeles, asked the 500 attendees to close their eyes, and turned up the sound so they could sample his wares: a textured, layered soundscape that he calls an “audiojack.”

A thousand eyes clamped shut as they collectively heard a ball thudding into a glove. A cracking bat. Fans roaring with approval. “How does what you’re hearing make you feel? What does it make you remember? There are no right or wrong answers,” Tobin told the group, who’d gathered for demonstrations and discussions on how technology can improve the lives of our rapidly aging population. “It’s all up to you to imagine,” he said.

Taking back our imaginations from an onslaught of words, images, video and other stimuli is Tobin’s goal with his business, Audiojack, so named, he says, because he hopes listeners will get “jacked” by the sounds.

A former television producer and one-time manager of the famous Roxy Theater on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, Tobin happened on the idea by accident. After a friend gave him a hard drive that contained a folder of sound effects.

Just for fun, Tobin mixed them with no apparent plot or structure, leaving out any human voices. He found that friends who listened to his creation started “putting together a story instantly because your brain associates the sound with memory,” he said.

Next he shared it with his mother, a teacher, who brought it into her classroom and saw that kids seemed particularly engaged after a listening session. When a friend sampled it for his mother, who in turn played the soundscape for dementia patients she cared for at a senior center, Tobin began to realize he’d made something that had broad appeal and a useful application.

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