Using Sound to Represent Uncertainty in Spatial Data

Bearman, N (2013) Using Sound to Represent Uncertainty in Spatial Data. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

There is a limit to the amount of spatial data that can be shown visually in an effective manner, particularly when the data sets are extensive or complex. Using sound to represent some of these data (sonification) is a way of avoiding visual overload. This thesis creates a conceptual model showing how sonification can be used to represent spatial data and evaluates a number of elements within the conceptual model. These are examined in three different case studies to assess the effectiveness of the sonifications.
Current methods of using sonification to represent spatial data have been restricted by the technology available and have had very limited user testing. While existing research shows that sonification can be done, it does not show whether it is an effective and useful method of representing spatial data to the end user. A number of prototypes show how spatial data can be sonified, but only a small handful of these have performed any user testing beyond the authors’ immediate colleagues (where n > 4). This thesis creates and evaluates sonification prototypes, which represent uncertainty using three different case studies of spatial data. Each case study is evaluated by a significant user group (between 45 and 71 individuals) who completed a task based evaluation with the sonification tool, as well as reporting qualitatively their views on the effectiveness and usefulness of the sonification method.
For all three case studies, using sound to reinforce information shown visually results in more effective performance from the majority of the participants than traditional visual methods. Participants who were familiar with the dataset were much more effective at using the sonification than those who were not and an interactive sonification which requires significant involvement from the user was much more effective than a static sonification, which did not provide significant user engagement. Using sounds with a clear and easily understood scale (such as piano notes) was important to achieve an effective sonification. These findings are used to improve the conceptual model developed earlier in this thesis and highlight areas for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2015 12:28
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2015 12:32
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/52676
DOI:

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