Key Features of Tangible Auditory Interfaces


The McGurk effect makes it possible to implement acoustic augmentations by linking objects with sounds that are not rendered from the exact location where their manipulation takes place. Because of the ambient, less-directional perception of sound, no masking by user manipulation takes place, which is often considered an important problem in vision-based systems. Nevertheless, it is possible to add space relations to auditory augmentations of objects.

Interfacing Richness

Chapter 3 explained that a representation system for digitally stored data should reflect the complexity of the data to be represented. Since both fields, TI and AD, provide a rich interface in control respectively display, TAIs naturally support continuous modalities and therefore can offer a highly analogue representation. Rather than being structured by an algorithmic pre-processing system that results in a more symbolical representation, the mediated quantitative data can be cognitively processed and directly controlled by the user. This is a valuable effect especially for data exploration.

Immediacy and Flow

TAIs actively support flow in both sensing– and display modalities. This effect can be facilitated by the interface designer by reflecting user manipulations with prominently perceivable changes in the Auditory Display. Also, the controlling accuracy of Tangible Interfaces combined with an immediate and precise feedback fosters the flow in TAI usage. A good example for such a tight connection between controlling and auditory feedback is the Reim toolset (as it is described for [intlink id=”8″ type=”page”]Auditory Augmentation[/intlink]).

Collaborative Work

Tangible Interfaces support multi-person control by nature. Sound on the other hand is broadcasted and can therefore be perceived by many people at the same time. These two attributes fit well together, and should be considered in TAI design.


Sounds caused by user-action should be related to real-world experiences, e.g. much pressure should result in loud sound. This way, user-confusion by unusual attitude is minimised.

Tight Coupling

As stated in the previous paragraph, the options for display and sensors can and should be designed such that they are tightly coupled. The users’ ability to understand how the interconnection is established should not be underestimated. True understanding of the system’s reaction to user manipulation means that less reactions are considered to be wrong.


Auditory Displays can be utilised for long-term monitoring. Such a subcon- sciously perceived display is optimally complemented by a lazy Tangible Interface that does not pro-actively change its state and does not need any active elements to keep that state.