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Aural Information Display
Aural displays increase information display bandwidth, promote recognition of subtle or transient information that might be overlooked in a visual display, promote attention redirection to more dynamic or interesting regions of the data, and help to preserve viewer spatial orientation when traversing large and abstract datasets.

  • Heighten situational awareness
  • Reduce information overload by utilizing aural senses
  • Present temporal information which would be missed visually
  • Intuitively present location-dependent information
  • Direct visual focus to time-critical data
  • Reduce or eliminate the need for specialized display technology such as an HMD (head-mounted display)
  • Allow the eyes to be focused on the task at hand while the user still monitors alerts, messages, and task guidance
  • Offload the visual system
Advantages of Auralization
Visual representation is limited in the number of independent dimensions of a dataset that it can simultaneously represent. In addition to spatial dimensions and a temporal dimension, a few other properties are available such as color, texture, and symbology, but these are limited in number and quickly exhausted when highly-dimensional, complex, and layered datasets are represented. By integrating a 3D aural representation to the data display, a significant number of additional dimensions can be simultaneously employed, sonified by properties such as pitch, duration, volume, timbre, and propagation properties. By adding to the number of dimensions that may be simultaneously observed during data mining and analysis, data sonification provides additional information bandwidth, thus increasing perception, recognition, and comprehension of the information hidden with a dataset.

The visual system and the auditory system have complementary strengths in data display. While visual displays can provide extremely high resolution depictions of selected local areas or datasets, identifying the interesting regions for scrutiny in a very large dataset is always a challenge. Visual strategies for attacking this problem include increasing the visual display area, increasing the data display rate, coding data of greater interest with brighter colors, etc. However, even these strategies are often insufficient – a single pixel can easily be overlooked, especially in a time-varying display. Aural scanning, alternately, can be better suited for detecting subtle or transient data, as the aural sense can scan all spatial directions simultaneously without being limited to a single focal point, and can detect data features of very short temporal duration more easily and intuitively.

Because humans have the ability to hear in all directions at once, spatial auralization is a compelling strategy for supporting attention attraction and redirection. This allows larger quantities of data to be scanned more quickly, with attention being properly guided to the most interesting local areas of the display on a continuous basis. Even though a data auralization can stand on its own with no visual display, we believe it can significantly enhance visual displays, and allow participants to perceive more of the displayed information.
Although in recent years significant advances have been made in virtual-reality (VR) visual immersion and visual display technology, such as head-mounted displays (HMD’s) and cave automatic virtual environments (CAVE’s) that allow spatial traversal of high-resolution 3D data, spatial orientation can be better achieved and translational movement can be better perceived when multiple sensory systems are presented with coordinated stimuli. Data visualizations can be so abstract that a viewer can lose his or her understanding of place within the dataset, when deprived of matching kinesthetic and aural cues. Aural senses allow the cues of traversal and perspective changes to be significantly reinforced.

An additional advantage of an aural display is that it supports and complements any first-person perspective visual display technology, and is not limited to any specific visual technology, such as desktop displays, CAVE’s projection walls, or HMD’s, and it will most likely be compatible with future visual display technologies as well.

Example Application: Dismounted Soldier
Soldiers in combat need as much information as possible to remain safe and perform their assigned tasks. The best possible explanation of the need for better communications is seen in the motion picture Blackhawk Down. As more body armor is added, as well as protection against chemical and biological attacks, war fighters can become isolated from their surroundings.

The addition of a wearable vectorized audio system, combined with wearable communications and control systems, provides the wearer with a broad range of advanced capabilities. ... LEARN MORE
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