Sonification of 3-dimensional shapes is challenging because there are fundamental differences between the human auditory and visual systems. Subjects were asked to explore the audio representations of top-projected shapes having different levels of visual complexity using several different strategies. After a 50-minute experience with each sonification technique, all subjects agreed that auditory patterns derived from cross-sectional profiles of virtual objects were robust and extremely easy for mental manipulation, enabling them to mentally rebuild virtual shapes. At the beginning of the test, subjects could not imagine that it would be possible to get a sense of a virtual shape by relying exclusively on ordinary MIDI sounds. Two other techniques were not successful.
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