In scientific practice, sonification is the acoustical counterpart to visualisation. It is a method that - following uniformly applicable rules - instead of assigning specific positions on a diagram to abstract values according to uniform rules (thus converting data into illustrations), assigns sounds to them - also following uniform rules.
Take radioactivity, for instance, which is commonly measured with a Geiger counter. The data yielded by this measuring device are not visualized but are made audible instead. The measurement yields a sound, whereby each click corresponds to one radioactive disintegration. From the characteristics of the sound, you can deduce the intensity of radiation, thus hearing what you cannot see.
Since 1992, a group of researchers have met annually at the "International Conference for Auditory Display", ICAD. In 1997, its participants agreed upon the following definition: "Sonification is the use of non-speech audio to convey information". The conference also established the current subdivision of sonification according to its three methods: audification, parameter mapping and model-based sonification.
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