Sonification, a form of auditory display, is a means of mapping arbitrary information such as the distance to an obstacle or changes in temperature into sound. For the visually impaired, sonification can make an important contribution to increasing autonomy. In contrast to earcons (the audio analog of icons), which map a unique sound to a particular meaning, morphocons are short audio units that are used to construct a sonic grammar based on temporal-frequency patterns, rather than fixed sound samples. For example, a rhythmic repetition can be used to modify or add meaning to any base sound sample. Results indicate that both blind and sighted subjects were able to perceive temporal variations of acoustic parameters as an abstract form, independent of the base sound sample, allowing the extraction of consistent category information from a range of different customizable sounds.
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