Feeling for Sound: Mapping Sonic Data to Haptic Perceptions

Mudd, Tom

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This paper presents a system for exploring different dimensions of a soundthrough the use of haptic feedback. The Novint Falcon force feedback interfaceis used to scan through soundfiles as a subject moves their hand horizontallyfrom left to right, and to relay information about volume, frequency content,noisiness, or potentially any analysable parameter back to the subject throughforces acting on their hand. General practicalities of mapping sonic elements to physical forces areconsidered, such as the problem of representing detailed data through vaguephysical sensation, approaches to applying forces to the hand that do notinterfering with the smooth operation of the device, and the relative merits ofdiscreet and continuous mappings. Three approaches to generating the forcevector are discussed: 1) the use of simulated detents to identify areas of anaudio parameter over a certain threshold, 2) applying friction proportional tothe level of the audio parameter along the axis of movement, and 3) creatingforces perpendicular to the subject’s hand movements.Presentation of audio information in this manner could be beneficial for‘pre-feeling’ as a method for selecting material to play during a liveperformance, assisting visually impaired audio engineers, and as a generalaugmentation of standard audio editing environments.