‘Information Spatialization’: Sonic ‘Translations’ of Information Visualizations

Our aim is to develop sonic and tactile ‘translations’ of information visualizations. Our designs are guided by an exiting possibility: What if the visual cortex is actually a spatial cortex recruited by sight, sound, and touch? Many so-called information visualizations could be thought of as presenting information spatially (‘Information Spatializations’). For example, a graph or bar chart (in a .pdf file, for example) is encoded as points connected by lines within a 2D or 3D space. Although the standard practice is to display these point and lines visually, they could also be displayed sonically (via spatial sound) or tactilely (as raised points and lines on a surface). Because of the ubiquitous sound capabilities on consumer computational devices, our initial prototypes demonstrate sonic translations of everyday spark lines and bar charts.

Rising and falling tones convey rising and falling (financial) values over time.

Figure 2: On the left is a ‘visual’ bar chart. The height of each bar represents a numerical (financial) value. Each bar corresponds to a particular month (May, June, July, or August). On the right is a spectral display of a sonic translation of the bar chart. You can access a sonic translation of the chart at this word press media page. At this page you can experience a multimodal (visual+sonic) version via video.

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