Weather Sonification

Testing the limits of human perception with weather-related sounds...

Primary Skills:

Max/MSP and PureData

Sonification Principles


Study Design

Data Collection & Analysis

Weather is a omnipresent database that combines beautifully with sound. Most people are familiar with the associated scales such as temperature, humidity, or precipitation and many have intuitive mental models for organizing the huge amount of combinations between these factors. Sonifying weather is by no means a novel approach; however in this research we focus not on the sonficications themselves, but on the limits of human perception regarding them.

Weather 3D
Jamoma external patch adapted for weather-related 3D Audio & spatialization

If we sonify different weather-related variables on different streams, how many of these streams can a user attend to at any one time? In other words, how good are we at auditory multitasking? This project serves to address that question. Participants in the experiment will listen to various weather sonification streams and answer questions about what they perceive the weather to be.

Fugue Screenshot
Max/MSP patch that maps weather data to the auditory domain

My role in the project involved developing the real-time sonification system for the study in Max/MSP. We use a combination of basic sonification approaches such as simple value-to-pitch mapping, as well as more complex techniques like 3D Audio and spatialization. For all this, we used both the standard Max/MSP libraries and the Jamoma 3D Ambisonics external library. Additionally, I have worked with the team to design a study to tease out the effects we are looking for. Through this research, we aim to gain more understanding about how humans perceive data when presented as sound.

© Copyright 2014 Riley Winton