Cross Cultural Study of Auditory Warnings
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Auditory human machine interfaces (HMI) are used in cars to provide the driver with information. For security reasons, sound design should respect information urgency scaling. In view of a continuous increase of Renault's sales worldwide, getting a better understanding of urgency perception of sounds is fundamental. Scientific knowledge is not very widespread about possible cross-cultural differences for auditory alarms, but seems to indicate that people from different countries would agree more on urgency perception of abstract sounds than environmental sounds. The aim of this study is to specify which acoustical parameters influence urgency perception of sounds, worldwide., A experiment was conducted in six countries, representative of Renault's customers: France, Germany, Great Britain, Turkey, Korea and the USA. Sixteen sounds were designed according to different acoustical parameters (frequency, timbre and onset of the pulses), and split into two sets depending on their tempo: one set at a fast tempo, one at a slower tempo. The results are very similar in the six countries. The auditory HMI are perceived as urgent when the frequency is high, at both tempi. At a fast tempo, a short attack time increases urgency perception. Abstract auditory HMI following frequency and onset guidelines should be perceived worldwide similarly along an urgency scale. These recommendations have been applied to design auditory HMI to be sounded by the instrument panel of vehicles recently released.