Virtual-Audio Aided Visual Search on a Desktop Display
Romigh, Griffin D.
Simpson, Brian D.
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As visual display complexity grows, visual cues and alerts may become less salient and therefore less effective. Although the auditory system's resolution is rather coarse relative to the visual system, there is some evidence for virtual spatialized audio to benefit visual search on a small frontal region, such as a desktop monitor. Two experiments examined if search times could be reduced compared to visual-only search through spatial auditory cues rendered using one of two methods: individualized or generic head-related transfer functions. Results showed the cue type interacted with display complexity, with larger reductions compared to visual-only search as set size increased. For larger set sizes, individualized cues were significantly better than generic cues overall. Across all set sizes, individualized cues were better than generic cues for cueing eccentric elevations (> ±8°). Where performance must be maximized, designers should use individualized virtual audio if at all possible, even in small frontal region within the field of view.