Auditory Interfaces

Using the sense of sound to augment the user experience...

Primary Skills:


Literature Review

Writing Composition

Sonification Principles

Music Composition

Sound is an extremely useful perceptual sense that is present everywhere in daily life. You know when to shift gears in a manual transmission because of how the car sounds, you know when loved ones are sick just from the first few words of a phone conversation, and you listen to music for pure enjoyment. Some applications are more urgent: you know to take shelter when you hear distant thunder, the fire alarm wakes you in the middle of the night to save your life, or a car horn prevents a child from running into the street as a vehicle passes.

Cochlea model
Model of the bony labyrinth - the complex structure that allows the sensation of sound

One of the top five largest home appliance companies approached the Georgia Tech Sonification Lab with a desire to learn how to better control this dimension of sound in their devices. For example, how can a dishwasher use sound to notify users of it's progress on a wash cycle? How can an oven alert users that a possible fire has broken out? Combining elements of usability engineering and psychoacoustic principles, we produced a full report with guidelines on how to effectively harness these concepts.

Auditory Interface
Graphic of a washing machine using sound to update users of its progress

My contributions on this project were primarily focused on developing the guidelines for auditory perception and development of auditory icons and earcons. I performed a thorough literature review and compiled scholarly references for the report. An example of one of these guidelines would be that urgent alarm tones need to be located within a specific high frequency range to avoid environmental masking. As one of my first tasks while working in the Sonification Lab as an undergraduate, it was a great project for initializing exposure to the exciting domains of auditory perception, psychoacoustics, and usability evaluation.

© Copyright 2014 Riley Winton