We have explored ways to enhance users' comprehension of complex applications using music and special sound effects to present application program events that are difficult to visually detect. A prototype system, InfoSound, allows developers to create and store musical sequences and special sound effects, to associate stored musical sequences and sound effects to application events, and to have real-time, continuous auditory control of sounds during application execution. InfoSound has been used to create auditory interfaces for two applications: a telephone network service simulation and a parallel computation simulation. The auditory interfaces in these applications helped users detect rapid, multiple event sequences that were difficult to visually detect using text and graphical interfaces. This paper describes the architecture of InfoSound, use of the system, and lessons we have learned.
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