Turning Data into Sound – WNYC

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How do you turn a pie chart into sound? That was the problem faced by NASA scientists who found challenges with conveying data to astronauts who were unable to process it because of movement and sight issues in space. But where visuals failed, sound showed its practicality.

Ears were found to detect patterns in places where even visuals failed, according to Bruce Walker, director of Georgia Tech’s Sonification Lab, who worked on that initial project when the field was just getting started in the early ’90s.

Data sonification is now a full fledged academic field, with a growing number of daily uses. Brian Foo, an application developer for the New York Public Library Labs, is one of those who is pushing its boundaries with his work as the Data-Driven DJ. 

What does the median household income sound like in Manhattan? What about the slow pace of sea level rise in New Orleans? These are just two data sonification examples Foo shares with us today on The Takeaway. Click on the ‘Listen’ button above to hear the full segment. 




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