accessibility Sonification

The Sound of Tennis

During the last week of January 2022, I read several articles about a system that produced 3D sound tracking the movements of a tennis ball in motion. Action Audio transforms spatial data from the Australian Open’s real time ball monitoring technology into 3D sound.

This FAQ explains how the system works. The first item on the page is a documentary. Below that is a series of short video clips that demonstrate the individual sounds assigned to the ball as it moves across the court.

The sounds are:

•            Blips increase in frequency as the ball approaches the court perimeter.

•            A metallic bell/rattle sound indicates that the ball has been hit.

•            High pitches identify forehand serves, and lower pitches correspond to a backhand serve.

The last clip includes the 3D sound and video from a previous tennis match. It is an “18 shot rally between Marin Čilić and Roger Federer in the fourth set of the Australian Open 2018 singles men’s final”.

The clip begins with the players hitting the ball back and forth. Then one player misses a shot. The crowd noise confirms my observation.

During the 2022 Australian Open, viewers could watch a livestream that included Action Audio overlaid onto the broadcast commentary.

Action Audio is a collaboration between Tennis Australia, Monash University and AKQA. The collaborators “thank the International Blind Tennis Association, Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria and the many sports fans who contributed to the co-design of Action Audio.”


Hearing the Sound of Light

It’s August and many students are returning to school. I wrote this short post to share the work of my colleagues.

Hearing the Sound of Light  is a conversational post that introduces sonification, the process of using sound to explore data. In this example, the data of interest is changes in the brightness of stars. This post appeared on the Paths to Technology blog.

Paths to Technology is sponsored by the Perkins School for the blind.

accessibility Sonification

Hearing the Light

My colleagues at the SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE  in Baltimore are doing great work on sonification (representing data with sound). They developed a program that adds an audio component to graphs of data.

Watch this presentation  Hearing The Light on YouTube for more details.

Then listen to this podcast to hear their reflections working on this project during the pandemic.

I will be writing more about sonification in the future. Stay tuned.