Beyond the sonification, two narrators engaged in dialogue to provide context and a mapping introduction for each auditory scene. They would introduce every new scene or view and, where needed, explain how the sound represented the data. They would provide additional context cues, such as saying the planet’s name. To assist in establishing conceptual anchors for the sounds, publicly available photographs of each planet were used as basic visual anchors for the audience.
After each of the two sections, we conducted an open-ended user experience evaluation: a series of Likert questions adapted from Matthews (2006) work on peripheral display interpretation to measure the helpfulness, appeal, and learnability of the mappings used in both halves of the sonification. The audience rated each of the sonifications quite positively, with a mean score of 4.7/6 for the mappings in the first half and 4.6/6 for the mappings in the second half. Tomlinson et al. (2017), mentioned above, describes the evaluation results in more detail.
The audience found this experience enjoyable, and many provided feedback through open-ended responses on what mappings they found most interesting, intuitive, or striking. Some found that the sonification evoked unexpected positive feelings, including feelings of how “awesome” the size and scale of the solar system really is. Attendees reported having more trouble remembering the sonification mappings from the second half. This view displayed more details specific to each planet and presented many more pairs of data comparisons than the first half. Breaking this section into smaller chunks would make it easier for the audience to enjoy and reflect on the sonification.