Audio on The Internet

Foreseeable Difficulties Using Sound as an Interface

Because our sense of hearing is less directional than our sense of sight, and because we lack "earlids," audio will affect others present in the same environment as the computer system. While the use of headphones would cure this problem, many users do not like the feel of being "hooked-up" to the computer, and so prefer not to wear headphones.

A method of continuous sound, such as repetitive music, has been proposed to create a sort of drone with intermittent, salient features to provide information, hopefully with less annoyance to on-listeners, as in The Audible Web:

All of the sounds used in The Audible Web are presented at low levels above background noise in an effort to inform rather than distract users.
As a result they learned that the individual user was less distracted by salient audio cues, but what effect the presence of ubiquitous background noise would have in a social situation requires more investigation.

Another possible solution to controlling environmental noise is an active level sensing that would alter the volume of the audible cues depending on the level of environmental noise, using a real-time limiting/expanding algorithm. Similar systems currently designed for car audio systems are in use, and their effectiveness remains to be seen.

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Techniques - How audio material is used on the Internet: File Formats

Audio on The Internet