Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Listening to the data by sonification

When you get a good chunk of data, what do you do first?
You probably plot different aspects of the data, trying to identify the patterns and characteristic signatures in it. Well, that is very helpful for visual people. 

What would auditory people do? they listen...
"Shhhh. Listen to the data." A Physics Today article by Toni Feder.
The process of converting the data to streaming sound is called data sonification. Sometimes the visual data is too noisy. Ear may be able to pick out the subtle structures in the data.
A quote from the article:
“When Voyager 1 flew by [Jupiter’s moon] Io in 1979, we detected whistlers”—low-frequency radio waves. “That was first detected by hearing. Your ears are amazing at picking out fine signals. In frequency–time spectra, you can choose the resolution when you process the data. If you choose the wrong resolution, you may not detect anything. You have to match what you are processing to the time resolution. Your ear does that automatically.”