Soundscape mapping: comparing listening experiences

  The perceived auditory environment is an increasingly important part of people’s everyday interactive experiences. While sound design is an established discipline in media such as video games and cinema, this is not the case in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). HCI designers are rarely trained in sound design, and may not make the most effective use of sound in the design of interactions. Even when sound is at the centre of a design it is rarely evaluated to compare the experiences of designers and listeners. This dissertation reports work conducted to develop a tool for comparing sound designers’ intentions for a sound design with the experiences of listeners.
A review was made of the published literature on methods of measuring, classifying and visualising sound, as well as approaches to sound design in media and computing. A published method for representing auditory environments was selected for preliminary studies. The studies attended to the difficulties of describing auditory environments and how they might be visualised. Attributes of sound that would be meaningful to both designers and listeners were sought. A method of visualising sounds and their distribution in physical environments was developed and trialled. This work resulted in the production of the soundscape mapping tool (SMT).
The SMT was trialled with sound designs from different domains. The experiences of both the designer and listeners were captured for each design using the SMT. This work demonstrated that the SMT was suitable for capturing the expectations of sound designers and the experiences of listeners, and provided information about where the SMT could be improved. The dissertation contributes evidence that auditory environments can be abstracted and visualised in a manner that allows designers to represent their designs, and listeners to record their experiences. The SMT enables comparative evaluations of the effectiveness of sound designs.

  • Dates:

    0 to 2011

  • Qualification:

    Doctorate (PhD Soundscape mapping: comparing listening experiences)

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