Learning Rates for Auditory Menus Enhanced with Spearcons Versus Earcons
Palladino, Dianne K.
Walker, Bruce N.
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Increasing the usability of menus on small electronic devices is essential due to their increasing proliferation and decreasing physical sizes in the marketplace. Auditory menus are being studied as an enhancement to the menus on these devices. This study compared the learning rates for earcons (hierarchical representations of menu locations using musical tones) and spearcons (compressed speech) as potential candidates for auditory menu enhancement. We found that spearcons outperformed earcons significantly in rate of learning. We also found evidence that spearcon comprehension was enhanced by a brief training cycle, and that participants considered the process of learning spearcons much easier than the same process using earcons. Since the efficiency of learning and the perceived ease of use of auditory menus will increase the likelihood they are embraced by those who need them, this paper presents compelling evidence that spearcons may be the superior choice for such applications.