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Audio-tactile multimodal perception of tissue-conducted sound fieldsApproximately 5% of the World’s population, that is, 360 million people, suffer from “disabling hearing loss” and the proportion of over-65s rises to about 33%. 13.4% of geriatric patients have significant conductive components to their hearing loss. For this segment of the population, “music deprivation” may have significant long-term health and wellbeing consequences amounting to diminished quality of life (QoL). Assistive technologies implementing sensory augmentation could ameliorate the effects of lack of ready access to music, the experiential attributes of music listening can be reinstated and tangible benefits might accrue.
The body as instrument: tissue conducted multimodal audio-tactile spatial music.We describe early progress in exploring the compositional potential for multimodal music of a multi-transducer audio-plus-vibrotactile apparatus, utilising ambisonics encoding; the tactile component is an incidental by-product, carried by the same transducers. An elicitation exercise with one hundred uninstructed listeners who gave responses in their own words was conducted and responses were transcribed and aggregated to identify emergent descriptive themes. The tactile components of the stimuli assume greater importance in the perceptual experience than originally considered, suggesting compositional opportunities in utilizing additive effects of audio-plus-tactile signals. This could engender assistive technologies for those with some degree of conductive hearing loss, ameliorating music-deprivation and addressing quality-of-life (QoL) issues.
Investigating spatial music qualia through tissue conductionA spatial array of vibro-mechanical transducers for bone-and-tissue conduction has been used to convey spatial ambisonic soundscape and spatial musical material. One hundred volunteers have undergone a five-minute listening experiences, then have described the experience in their own words, on paper, in an unstructured elicitation exercise. The responses have been aggregated to elicit common emergent descriptive themes, which were then mapped against each other to identify to what extent the experience was valuable, enjoyable and informative, and what qualia were available through this technique. There appear to some substantive differences between this way of experiencing music and spatial sound, and other modes of listening. Notably, the haptic component of the experience appears potentially informative and enjoyable. We conclude that development of similar techniques may have implications for augmented perception, particularly in respect of quality of life (QoL) in cases of conductive hearing loss.