Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The sound of silence

Sound research that may benefit usability and accessibility in the future...

"Researchers at Rockefeller University have built a mathematical method and written an algorithm based on the way our ears process sound that provides a better way to analyze noise than current methods. Not only their algorithm is faster and more accurate than previous ones used in speech recognition or in seismic analysis, it's also based on a very non-intuitive fact. They know what a sound was by knowing when there was no sound. "In other words, their pictures were being determined not by where there was volume, but where there was silence." The researchers think that their algorithm can be used in many applications and that it will soon give computers the same acuity as human ears. Read moreā€¦

Let's start with some facts about our sensory system.

Humans have 200 million light receptors in their eyes, 10 to 20 million receptors devoted to smell, but only 8,000 dedicated to sound. Yet despite this miniscule number, the auditory system is the fastest of the five senses. Researchers credit this discrepancy to a series of lightning-fast calculations in the brain that translate minimal input into maximal understanding. And whatever those calculations are, they're far more precise than any sound-analysis program that exists today.

This is the problem that Marcelo Magnasco, professor and head of the Mathematical Physics Laboratory at Rockefeller University, decided to tackle with the help of one of his former students, Tim Gardner. And they developed a new algorithm which transforms sound into a visual representation far better than current methods do."   continued ...   (Via ZDNet)



The sight of silence - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

The sight of silence

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