Humanizing high-tech with sound

Illumina utilizes interactive sound design to infuse its state-of-the-art genomics technology with the human touch.

What does usability sound like?

As part of its mission to constantly innovate and empower genetic researchers, Illumina, the global leader in DNA sequencing technologies, enlisted Brand Timbre’s help to investigate the potential of sound to improve the user experience of its next-generation genetic sequencers.

Collaborating with Illumina’s brand team, Brand Timbre began by articulating Illumina’s Audio Identity, a prescription for expressing Illumina’s brand ideals through sound and music. At the same time, Brand Timbre’s sound design team visited a number of laboratories that used Illumina technologies to observe the sequencers in their “natural environment” and gain insight into how sound might improve the user experience.

Work progressed on these two separate but interrelated tasks: developing a signature sonification element, Illumina’s audio logo, that would express Illumina’s highest aspiration of improving human health by “unlocking the power of the genome”; and, working along side Illumina’s product engineers and UI designers, creating a set of audio prompts for key points in the sequencing process. Beyond their practical function, the prompts also had to adhere to Illumina’s audio identity, so that they formed a cohesive—and, over time, recognizable—family of audio brand assets.

Once development of the audio logo and primary sonification elements was complete, Brand Timbre worked with Illumina’s in-house video media department to design, source, and license a brand-music library for use in all Illumina video productions. To help ensure that Illumina and its outside communications partners used Illumina’s audio-branding assets in coherent manner, Brand Timbre wrapped up the project by developing a concise Usage Guideline that described best practices for utilizing sound and music strategically within Illumina’s broader “audio ecosystem.”