Accessible Aquarium

Conveying dynamic visual scenes with sound and music...

Primary Skills:

Study Design

Data Collection & Analysis

Audio Recording

Eyetracker Hardware

Interview Transcription

Imagine all the wondrous sights of the Georgia Aquarium's Ocean Voyager exhibit - the color of the bright golden trevally, the grandeur of the regal whale shark, and the graceful flow of the manta ray. Now try to imagine the same scene without any sense of vision. This represents the goal of the Accessible Aquarium Project - to provide a glimpse of a dynamic visual scene through the dimension of sound.

Aquarium Tank
A picture taken while working at the Ocean Voyager tank

The concept behind the proposed experience relies on several important subgroups: computer vision, music technology, and psychology. While several different departments from Georgia Tech have been involved in the progress, I have been heavily involved with the Sonification Lab's work related to the perceptual analysis of the system.

Playing vibraphone at the Ocean Voyager tank as part of the user study on intuitive mappings

More specifically, I am working on the part of the project that deals with how users understand sound when it is used to represent a visual scene. For example, when a fish swims upward, what is the best way to express that with sound? What instruments and timbres are the best for conveying a guitarfish versus a spotted eagle ray? These are but two very specific examples of the types of knowledge we intend to discover through this project.

Aquarium Room
Microphones and instruments readied at the Georgia Aquarium Beluga whale tank

While immense in scope, the research of auditory perception and its interaction with visual perception is critical for the understanding the domain of this project. Years of effort have been spent towards understanding the drastically different aspects of this project, but many questions still remain. It is our goal to eventually develop a usable system where aquarium visitors, with or without vision impairments, can explore the amazing scene that is the Georgia Aquarium through an entirely new dimension.

© Copyright 2014 Riley Winton