Mert Torun: Product Designer

Gato Sound Compass

2005 Umeå Institute of Design, for the Sound Design Course, in collaboration with Mine Danışman Taşar and Ladislao Camarena Solis

Gato is a GPS navigator/compass designed to make use of sound as a major interface element. It uses sound to direct its user to the correct waypoints. The user either sets a waypoint by pointing towards the desired direction and pressing a button, or uploads a predetermined path from a computer and mapping software. Then the operation of Gato becomes hands and eyes free. The user can just start walking and enjoy the scenery, while Gato keeps him aware of the path he is following through sounds. Gato warns its user if he deviates from the determined path, increasing the intensity of the warnings the farther he gets. The user can understand through the sounds Gato makes, the direction towards which he should turn in order to get back on the right track, without ever having to look down.


We designed the interface sounds for Gato, generating them from scratch using Adobe Audition. A goal was to make the sounds in a way that would not be out of place in a nature setting, yet still be distinguishable from other natural sounds. Another consideration was to make it easier for the user to understand the sounds without having to look down. In this regard, we looked at the way people use emphasis and intonation when they speak.