Hard and soft information fusion in sonification for assistive mobile device technology
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Current research integrating sonification with hard and soft information fusion is poised to enable a new class of assistive technology that is driven by sensor technology and informed by semantic understanding of the user�s capabilities and current goals as well as events unfolding in the world around them. At the time of this writing, Penn State University is in the fourth year of an Army Research Office (ARO) funded MURI grant to develop networked hard and soft information fusion techniques with the main goal of using �soft data� (including textual and spoken reports from military personnel; and weather, news, and nearby hazard reports from the web and publicly available social media feeds) along with �hard data� from a variety of physical sensors (including video, acoustic, LIDAR, and rangefinder) with the goal of detecting and preventing the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against deployed troops. Over the course of this research, we have identified several areas in which the sonification-based utilization of hard and soft information can offer significant improvements to existing assistive technologies and tools. This paper presents the key elements of this research, describes areas of applicability in assistive technology, and presents suggestions for future research.