Sentimental audio memories

What if we captured and shared our memories and experiences through the recording of sounds rather than photographs?  In this project we aim to design and test a novel audio system to answer this question.



We have all got used to taking photographs as visual memory triggers to remind us of the past and share with others. However, research on the sentimental properties of audio has shown that sound recordings also trigger a kind of sonic memory for events, and stimulate different kinds of conversations about the past. One of the challenges of sound recording which may have suppressed its widespread use for this purpose, is the difficulty of archiving, browsing and sharing sounds which by nature are intangible, invisible and of varying durations. In this project, we will use deep learning mechanisms to automatically recognise and classify a large archive of sound recordings into categories that can be used to filter and find them again. We will also design and prototype a Sentimental Audio Memories system (‘SAM’) for recording and playing back these classified sounds in a tangible and attractive way. The work will extend research on the role of sound in memory and the design of tangible media interfaces which combine machine and human intelligence in a seemless way.

Team members

The SAM research team at Surrey includes David Frohlich, Tijs Duel, Christian Kroos, Yong Xu, Philip Jackson and Mark Plumbley. The SAM activity is itself part of the broader Making Sense of Sounds project, funded by a grant of £1.59m from the EPSRC Making sense of data programme (EP/N014111/1). It runs from 1.1.16 for 36 months.

We are looking for a small number of local families with children between the ages of 8 and 17 to take part in a trial of the system during the summer of 2018. Please contact Tijs Duel at the following email address if you are interested in volunteering:

For further information on the SAM project contact David Frohlich:


Duel T, Frohlich D M, Kroos C, Xu Y, Jackson P, Plumbley M (2018) Supporting audiography: Design of a system for sentimental sound recording, classification and playback. Communications in Computer and Information Science: HCI International 2018 - Posters' Extended Abstracts 850 Scientific Publishing Services, on behalf of Springer.

Find out more

Further details are on the main project website.

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Digital World Research Centre
Alan Turing Building
University of Surrey