Acoustic-tactile rendering of visual information

Pubudu Madhawa Silva, Thrasyvoulos N Pappas*, Joshua Atkins, James E. West, William M. Hartmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


In previous work, we have proposed a dynamic, interactive system for conveying visual information via hearing and touch. The system is implemented with a touch screen that allows the user to interrogate a two-dimensional (2-D) object layout by active finger scanning while listening to spatialized auditory feedback. Sound is used as the primary source of information for object localization and identification, while touch is used both for pointing and for kinesthetic feedback. Our previous work considered shape and size perception of simple objects via hearing and touch. The focus of this paper is on the perception of a 2-D layout of simple objects with identical size and shape. We consider the selection and rendition of sounds for object identification and localization. We rely on the head-related transfer function for rendering sound directionality, and consider variations of sound intensity and tempo as two alternative approaches for rendering proximity. Subjective experiments with visually-blocked subjects are used to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed approaches. Our results indicate that intensity outperforms tempo as a proximity cue, and that the overall system for conveying a 2-D layout is quite promising.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE-IS and T Electronic Imaging - Human Vision and Electronic Imaging XVII
ISBN (Print)9780819489425
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012
EventHuman Vision and Electronic Imaging XVII - Burlingame, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 23 2012Jan 26 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherHuman Vision and Electronic Imaging XVII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBurlingame, CA


  • HRTF
  • immersive environments
  • virtual reality
  • visual substitution
  • visually impaired

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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