Breaking the Sound Barrier: Designing Auditory Displays for Global Usability

[from elegant hack] Robert S. Tannen's article from the conference proceeding of the AT&T Labs 4th Conference on Human Factors and the Web. Abstract: As richer visual web content is delivered, there are reduced desktop and attentional resources available for the display of background browser processes (e.g. data transfer rate). A proposed solution is to enable users to aurally monitor background processes while attending to visually displayed web content. This approach is aimed at implementing global usability by stepping away from language specific alphanumeric data and culturally limited icons and sounds, towards more abstract, but still informative, display elements. These can be derived through the use of simple perceptual cues. Symmetry, which has been an effective cue in graphical configural displays, and may be utilized in the design of auditory configural displays of dynamic information. This approach may serve as the basis for cross-cultural auditory interface design.