The use of walking sounds in supporting awareness
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There is need for applications that keep the users aware of various things happening around them. One of such things is the presence of co-workers in office environments. Playing people's walking sounds in the background as cues of their presence came up as one way to provide such information. The walking sounds have very favorable properties; as a part of the normal sound ecology in an office environment they are non-obtrusive. In addition, they have a natural association to the person they present. To study how well people can identify recorded walking sounds of their co-workers we organized a listening experiment. Without any learning the identification rates were 13%, however after short teaching session rates increased to 66%. The results show that walking sounds do contain enough information to convey the identity of the person but careful design of the sounds is necessary. In this paper we also present how walking sounds can be used as a part of a ubiquitous computing system.