Update: Oct 23rd, 2010

Applications of Auditory Displays and Sonifications

Auditory Displays have a variety of different applications, which may be categorized as in the following sections

Information Systems for Visually Impaired People

Sonification can give blind users a new way to experience data, but also their environment (if for example sensor data or video images are sonified). Sonification can augment screen readers and accelerate the access and work with the computer.

Process Monitoring Application

Sonification can give a real-time soundscape of data to be observed. Think of an operator that needs to monitor a complex network, or to supervise an intensive care station in a hospital. Sonification is an eyes-free way to become a “typical background sound stream” that attracts attention in case of relevant changes in the signals.

Human Computer Interfaces

If we become aware of how ubiquitous and informative sound is in our daily life, it is strange and astonishing how silent our work is at the computer. Some sounds are already used in the computer, e.g. a crushing sound when an icon is dragged and released on the trash can icon, yet the level of information is not very high. If deletion of larger files would create a more complex sound this would immediately increase the user’s awareness, and sonification can help a lot in designing auditory interactions

Alternative to visual displays

if the visual sense is already highly loaded, sonification can be a suited alternative to provide additional information – think of a surgery where the doctor needs to focus on the wound, and can not use visual displays simultaneously. Think of the radio program, where no visual communication channel is available. We have created a whether forecast sonification for a radio station.

Exploratory Data Analysis

is a specifically good application. Here, typically complex, large and high-dimensional data are subject to analysis, and in order to discover hidden structures in the data, it is necessary to obtain multiple views of the data. Sonification can enrich the researchers understanding of the data and their structuring since our listening is partly complementary to structures that we attend to visually. Certain structures are more easily analyzed by listening than by seeing, e.g. changes in rhythmic patterns are much faster detected auditorily.

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