is the use of non-speech audio
to convey information
or perceptualize data. Due to the specifics of auditory perception
, such as temporal and pressure resolution, it forms an interesting alternative to visualization
techniques, gaining importance in various disciplines. It has been well established for a long time already as Auditory Display
in situations that require a constant awareness of some information (e.g. vital body functions during an operation). Sonification as a method for exploration of data and scientific modeling is a current and ongoing research desideratum.
One of the first successful applications of sonification is the well-known Geiger counter, a device measuring ionizing radiation. The number and frequency of audible clicks are directly dependent on the radiation level in the immediate vicinity of the device.
Sonification is an interdisciplinary field combining:
Some existing applications
- Geiger counter
- medical and cockpit auditory displays
- Auditory thermometer
- Volcano activity detection
- Professional skydivers use an auditory altimeter
Many different components can be altered to change the user's perception of the sound, and in turn, their perception of the underlying information being portrayed. Often, an increase or decrease in some level in this information in indicated by an increase or decrease in pitch, amplitude or tempo, but could also be indicated by varying other less commonly used components. For example, a stock market price could be portrayed by rising pitch as the stock price rose, and lowering pitch as it fell. To allow the user to determine that more than one stock was being portrayed, different timbres or brightnesses might be used for the different stocks, or they may be played to the user from different points in space, for example, through different sides of their headphones.
Many studies have been undertaken to try to find the best techniques for various types of information to be presented, and as yet, no conclusive set of techniques to be used has been formulated. As the area of sonification is still considered to be in its infancy, current studies are working towards determining the best set of sound components to vary in different situations.
Several different techniques for rendering auditory data representations can be categorized:
- Auditory Icons
- Parameter Mapping Sonification
- Model-Based Sonification
- International Community for Auditory Display
- Sonification Report (1997) provides an introduction to the status of the field and current research agendas.
- SonEnvir general sonification environment
- Sonification.de provides information about Sonification and Auditory Display, links to interesting event and related projects
- Sonification for Exploratory Data Analysis, PhD Thesis by Thomas Hermann 2002, developing Model Based Sonfication.
- Sonification of Mobile and Wireless Communications
- Interactive Sonification a hub to news and upcoming events in the field of interactive sonification
- iSIC iSIC (Information Music) - a musical sonification of data in complex systems.
- CodeSounding — a Java library for runtime sonification of Java source code structures (blocks, if, for, etc.) — The sonification is obtained by post-processing the source files: runtime sounds are a function of how was structured the source code of the running program
- LYCAY, a Java library for sonification of Java source code
- WebMelody, a system for sonification of activity of web servers.
- Sonification of a Cantor set
- Volcanoes may reveal secrets through 'song' (New Scientist)
- Sound of science (New Scientist) discusses many applications of sonification
- Sonification Sandbox v.3.0, a Java program to convert datasets to sounds, GT Sonification Lab, School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology.
- Infrasound Laboratory of Hawaii (sounds)
- xSonify a Java application to display numerical data as sound, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA