The auditory characteristic of a computer keyboard is altered according to the weather situation outside.

Everybody is talking about augmented reality these days: the increasingly popular technology which presents additional information to you about your environment through the use of visual overlays on camera-equipped phones. But our realities are also full of sound, sound that can be digitally augmented to communicate information and create feelings. What kinds of information about our surroundings can be communicated to us by modifying the sounds made by common objects that we interact with? This is the question addressed in the practice of auditory augmentation.

In this exhibit, the visitor is able to experience how a workplace's common soundscape may be artificially augmented with information streams a possible worker might be interested in. By carefully altering the structure-borne sound of a keyboard, which here stands for an everyday computer interface, information on the current weather situation is overlaid to the environment’s existing soundscape. This auditory augmentation alters according to the readings of environmental sensors. The worker therefore gets a subliminally perceived hint about the current weather conditions outside his office.

Adding an auditory augmentation to structure-borne sounds means to insert a thin layer between people’s action and an object’s natural auditory re-action. This auditory augmentation is designed to be easily overlaid to existing sounds while it does not change prominent and, perception-wise, essential auditory features of the augmented objects. In a peripheral monitoring situation as it can be found at a workplace, the data representation therefore tends to be below the user’s conscious perception. A characteristic change in the data stream, however, will likely claim the user’s attention.

The exhibited setup shows the capabilities of auditory augmentaion at hand of characteristic values for several weather situations. The visitor can switch between theses setups and experience the difference of the changing keyboard's sonic characteristic.


René Tünnermann is a research associate at the Ambient Intelligence Group at the Cognitive Interaction Technology Center of Excellence at Bielefeld University (CITEC). He studied science informatics at Bielefeld University. During his studies he worked as a student worker at the Neuroinformatics Group of Bielefeld University and the Alignment in AR-based cooperation project of the CRC673-Alignment in Communication. His research focus lies with tangible interfaces and interactive surfaces.

Till Bovermann is a researcher, artist, and engineer currently exploring tangible and auditory interfaces as a researcher at the Media Lab Helsinki, where he leads the TAI Studio. He has worked at various institutes within Bielefeld University, Germany, and most recently in the Ambient Intelligence Group of the CITEC Cognitive Interaction Technology Center of Excellence. He has also taught at the Institute for Music and Media of the University of Music Düsseldorf and the Generative Art class at UdK Berlin. His professional background is in Computer Science with a focus on Robotics. He received his PhD developing tangible auditory interfaces. Till Boverman's artistic works are mostly concerned with the relationship between digital and physical space. He is co-founder of TooManyGadgets, a media art group that tries to illuminate this relationship. Alongside his artistic and academic work, Till also develops software, mainly in SuperCollider.

Dr.Thomas Hermann studied physics at Bielefeld University. From 1998 to 2001 he was a member of the interdisciplinary Graduate Program “Task- oriented Communication”. He started the research on sonification and auditory display in the Neuroinformatics Group and received a Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2002 from Bielefeld University (thesis: Sonification for Exploratory Data Analysis). After research stays at the Bell Labs (NJ, USA, 2000) and GIST (Glasgow University, UK, 2004), he is currently assistant professor and head of the Ambient Intelligence Group within CITEC, the Center of Excellence in Cognitive Interaction Technology, Bielefeld University. His research focus is sonification, datamining, human-computer interaction and cognitive interaction technology.


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