NSF Workshop on Sonification 1997

This is a call for position papers for an NSF-sponsored workshop on sonification to be held in Palo Alto, California, Sunday, November 2, 1997, the day before ICAD '97.

At the request of the National Science Foundation, the International Community for Auditory Display, conveners of the International Conference on Auditory Display, is organizing a one day workshop on sonification. The purpose of the workshop is to assess the status of the field and produce recommendations to the NSF regarding the development of a research agenda. For the purposes of this workshop, sonification is defined as auditory representation of data.

Sonification research includes aspects of human perception and cognition, sound synthesis and audio signal processing, and music and sound design, as well as a host of related disciplines and applications such as computer science, process control and assistive technologies for the disabled. Relatively little research has been conducted in auditory representation of data and, with a few real time exceptions such as geiger counters or pulse oxymeters, no sonification solutions have been widely used.

What are the key issues facing sonification researchers? Are there bottlenecks in tool design? In perception research? Are there needs for design guidelines and theory building? What kinds of applications are likely to be the most successful? What kinds of research teams might be assembled to make the needed research or development breakthroughs? What role might sonification play in education? Conversely, what kind of background is needed to participate meaningfully in the field? In what ways can this research be informed by data visualization, haptic, VR and other perceptualization research? How significant is interactivity in data exploration via sonification?

These and other questions are likely to arise. The workshop will be limited to 15-20 participants. We will work ahead of time via email to ascertain the questions most pressing in the field. When we convene on November 2 we will hear several talks by participants then further focus our questions, breaking into working groups to investigate them in depth. The whole group will reconvene at the end of the day to share and discuss our results. Initial results will be presented a couple of days later at the ICAD conference. Following the workshop each team will return home to write up a portion of a report which will be compiled, edited, and presented to the National Science Foundation along with policy recommendations regarding the development of a research agenda. The white paper will also be circulated throughout the relevent research communities.

It is hoped that this effort will stimulate new thought and shed some light on the difficulties and possibilities of this research area. It may also help researchers at the fringes of sonification to provide meaningful input, while defining some of the potential benefits and difficulties of sonification for new research efforts. It is also our hope that a scientifically responsible position paper will serve as a useful reference as researchers approach funding agencies, colleagues, managers and review committees about their work.

Please submit a position paper of 500 words. This paper should present what you consider to be the key issue(s) facing sonification research, why these concerns are important, and possibly your current thoughts as to how to approach the issues. Please include within the paper a brief bio and description of current sonification research or current research of relevence to sonification. In selecting participants consideration will be given to experience, disciplinary and institutional diversity, demonstrated consideration of relevent issues, the ability to present quality scientific work, and other criteria. Participation by young researchers is also encouraged. A range of participants with varying experience and backgrounds will support informative discussions as well as provide opportunities to influence new researchers in this field. Email your submission (no attachments, please) to Gregory Kramer, workshop Chair, at kramer@listen.com no later than September 2, 1997.

This workshop is an adjunct to the International Conference on Auditory Display, ICAD '97, to be held at Xerox PARC November 3-5, 1997 in Palo Alto, California. Another workshop will be held on the same day entitled "Audio on the WWW". That workshop will be sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. Elizabeth Mynatt is the General Chair of ICAD '97, James Ballas is the Technical Chair. For further information on this and other ICAD activities, please visit the ICAD Web site at


Gregory Kramer
Clarity/Santa Fe Institute
310 NW Brynwood Lane
Portland, OR 97229
fax: 503-292-4982