Definitions

Sonification

Sonification

Sonification 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.

Fields

Sonification is an interdisciplinary field combining:

Some existing applications

  • Geiger counter
  • Sonar
  • medical and cockpit auditory displays
  • Auditory thermometer
  • Volcano activity detection
  • Professional skydivers use an auditory altimeter

Sonification techniques

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:

  • Audification
  • Earcons
  • Auditory Icons
  • Parameter Mapping Sonification
  • Model-Based Sonification

External links

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