Earcons Versus Auditory Icons in Communicating Computing Events: Learning and User Preference

Earcons Versus Auditory Icons in Communicating Computing Events: Learning and User Preference

T. S. Amer, Todd L. Johnson
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJTHI.2018100106
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This article investigates the effectiveness and user preferences of auditory icons and earcons in communicating various computing events. A controlled data collection exercise revealed that participants more quickly learned the relationships between computing events and auditory icons than the relationships between the same computing events and earcons. Results from a second data collection exercise showed that participants not only preferred to hear earcons rather than auditory icons, but indicated that auditory icons would be more irritating after repeated hearings. Taken together, these results present an interesting conundrum for systems designers: The more effective mode of communication is less preferred by users.
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Background And Hypotheses

Research investigating the use of the audio channel in computing interactions covers a wide variety of implementations. Csapó and Wersényi (2013) provide a survey of the auditory representations of auditory icons and earcons, as well as auditory representations that have been developed as extensions to these including speech-based sounds (e.g., spearcons) and emotionally based sounds such as auditory emoticons. Research results have shown that including an auditory element in the interface can effectively complement other display modalities (e.g., visual) in human interactions, not only in the traditional desktop computer environment but also in virtual and augmented reality, mobile platforms, and even in vehicles (Zhao, 2013; Isherwood & McKeown, 2016).

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