Although the majority of the work that I create as a developer falls under web or application development, I do on occasion get a chance to flex my sound design muscles from time to time. Such was the case when I was contracted to produce a set of tones that would be primarily used in medical equipment for Covidien. The tones were created over several weeks and multiple rounds of testing to make sure they fell within spec limits.
While I consider myself a technically proficient sound engineer, I was surprised at how much effort would eventually go into designing something as simple as a tone that is less than half a second long. However, when you consider that these small bits of audio are going to be in a machine that is literally saving lives and must be audible not just in terms of amplitude but also to denote a recognizable event from large distances away, it gives you a deeper sense of appreciation for sound design.
One of largest hurdles I experienced during the creation of these tones was calculating the attack length of the audio. Due to limitations within the application I used to design the tones, I was forced to create a formula that allowed me to calculate an accurate attack length based on percentages and eventually managed to finalize each tone within the limits outlined in the specifications manual.