Why washing machines are learning to play the harp

No longer do household machines merely bing or plink or blamp, as they might have in a previous era when such alerts simply indicated that the clothes were dry or the coffee was brewed. Now the machines play snippets of music. In search of ever more tailored accompaniment, companies have turned to experts such as Audrey Arbeeny, the CEO of Audiobrain, which composes notifications for devices and machinery, among many other audio-branding pursuits. If you’ve heard the start-up pongs of an IBM ThinkPad or the whispery greeting of Xbox 360, you know her work. “We don’t make noise,” Arbeeny told me. “We create a holistic experience that brings about better well-being.”

You may be skeptical that an electronic jingle, however holistic, can make doing the dishes a life-affirming endeavor—or even one that might bind you, emotionally, to your dishwasher. But companies are betting otherwise, and not entirely without reason.