Environmental Sounds as Concept Carriers for Communication
Cook, Perry R.
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Sonification, the use of nonspeech audio to represent data and information, has been applied to industrial systems and computer interfaces via mechanisms such as auditory icons and earcons. In this paper, we explore a different application of sonification, which is to facilitate communication across language barriers by conveying commonly used concepts via environmental auditory representations. SoundNet, a linguistic database enhanced with natural nonspeech audio, is constructed for this purpose. The concept-sound associations which are building blocks of SoundNet were validated through a sound labeling study conducted on Amazon Mechanical Turk. We determine the factors that cause a sound to evoke a concept. We examine which aspects of the proposed auditory representations are evocative, and what kinds of confusions may occur. Our results show that sounds can effectively illustrate some concepts, especially those related to concrete entities and actions, and thus can be utilized in assistive communication applications.